CpG island methylation in gastroenterologic neoplasia: a maturing field

Gastroenterology. 2004 Nov;127(5):1578-88. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2004.09.007.


Fifteen years after the first demonstration of epigenetic tumor-suppressor gene inactivation associated with promoter methylation, the field has reached a level of understanding that threatens a re-writing of established biologic concepts. In gastrointestinal malignancies, epigenetic analysis has led to novel hypotheses regarding the etiology of age-associated cancer susceptibility and the interactions between environmental exposures and neoplasia. Methylation profiling has uncovered a distinct pathway to colorectal neoplasia that may arise from a hitherto underestimated precursor lesion, the proximal hyperplastic polyp-serrated adenoma pathway. Epigenetic information has shown promise in clarifying susceptibility to cancer and defining poor prognosis groups in gastrointestinal cancers. Finally, the field has engendered renewed interest in therapeutic targeting of epigenetic regulatory molecules, and several such drugs are currently in clinical trials. It is likely that epigenetic pathways will be integrated in the routine management of gastrointestinal malignancies over the next decade.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • CpG Islands / genetics*
  • DNA Methylation*
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Precancerous Conditions / genetics
  • Stomach Neoplasms / genetics*


  • Chromatin
  • DNA, Neoplasm