Background: Alterations of DNA methylation are very frequent in prostatic carcinoma. A possible cause underlying altered DNA methylation could be an insufficient level of S-adenosylmethionine as a consequence of nutritional imbalances or of weaker alleles of genes for its synthesis, i.e., encoding methylene-tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), methionine synthase (MS), and beta-cystathione synthetase (CBS). Therefore, homozygosity or heterozygosity for such weaker alleles may underlie susceptibility to prostatic carcinoma.
Methods: The distribution of the two most frequent MTHFR, MS, and CBS alleles was determined in 132 prostatic carcinoma patients and 150 population controls by restriction fragment length polymorphism-(RFLP) PCR.
Results: In the controls, a Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium was observed for each allele pair. No significant differences were observed with respect to age or gender. No significant differences for single genes or combinations were found between prostatic carcinoma patients and controls, although the MTHFR Val allele was slightly overrepresented among the tumor patients. Neither did the allele distribution significantly differ among the prostatic carcinoma patients stratified according to age, clinical stage, or presence of metastases. However, the MTHFR Val allele tended to be associated with higher tumor grade.
Conclusions: In general, the data do not support the hypothesis that weaker alleles in methyl group metabolism genes constitute a major factor in the high prevalence of DNA methylation alterations found in prostatic carcinoma. However, a potential association with the MTHFR genotype deserves further study.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.