Objective: Prostate cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related mortality and morbidity in Western world. Curative treatment is feasible provided the disease is diagnosed in its earliest stages, but current screening methodologies are characterized by low specificity. DNA-based markers are a class of new and promising tools for cancer detection. Promoter hypermethylation is a common epigenetic alteration affecting cancer-related genes.
Methods: We critically reviewed the most relevant reports on prostate cancer detection using DNA methylation analysis in prostate tissue and body fluids.
Results: The epigenetic silencing of the glutathione-S-transferase P1 (GSTP1) gene is the most common (>90%) genetic alteration so far reported in prostate cancer. Methylation-specific PCR (MSP) methods allowed for the successful detection of GSTP1 methylation in body fluids (serum, plasma, urine, and ejaculates) from prostate cancer patients. In addition, the development of highly specific quantitative MSP assays augmented standard histopathology for the diagnosis of prostate cancer in tissue biopsies, accurately distinguishing benign from malignant prostate lesions.
Conclusions: Further advances in the epigenetic characterization of prostate cancer are likely to yield powerful tools for patient diagnosis and management.