Homogenous DNA methylation clearly affects clinical outcomes. However, less is known about the effects of heterogeneous methylation. We aimed to investigate the different effects between promoter methylation heterogeneity and homogeneity on colorectal cancer (CRC) patients’ prognosis. The methylation status of in 296 tumor tissues and 255 adjacent normal tissues were evaluated using Methylation-sensitive high-resolution melting (MS-HRM). Digital MS-HRM (dMS-HRM) visualized heterogeneous methylation and subsequent sequencing provided exact patterns. Log-rank test and Cox regression model were adopted to assess the association between methylation status and CRC prognosis with propensity score (PS) method to control confounding biases. Heterogeneous methylation was detected in both tumor (52.2%) and non-neoplastic tissue surrounding the tumor (62.4%). It occurred more frequently in lower levels of tumor invasion ( = 0.002) and male patients ( < 0.001). Compared with heterogeneous methylation, patients with homogeneous methylation presented poorer overall survival (OS) (HR: 1.919, 95% CI: 1.146-3.212, = 0.013) and disease-free survival (DFS) (HR: 1.913, 95% CI: 1.146-3.194, = 0.013). This unfavorable effect still existed among older (≥ 50), Dukes staging C/D, and rectal cancer patients. MS-HRM and dMS-HRM when combined can assess the degree and complexity of heterogeneous methylation with a visible pattern.

References

PubMed