Purpose: We have investigated whether the folate supplementation could be used to limit the aggressiveness of glioma through the DNA remethylation because (a) the cancer genome is characterized by a low level of DNA methylation (or 5-methylcytosine, 5 mC); and (b) folate is the main generator of S-adenosyl-methionine, the methyl donor molecule in the DNA methylation reaction catalyzed by the DNA methyltranferases.
Experimental design: The effects of folate supplementations were analyzed on the global DNA methylation status, the methylation status of DNA repeat element, the sensitivity of temozolomide-induced apoptosis, and the proliferation index of glioma cells. Finally, we analyzed whether the DNA methylation level could be used as a prognostic factor and/or a biomarker in an antiglioma therapy using folate supplementation as an adjuvant.
Results: Our data show that gliomagenesis is accompanied by a reduction in 5 mC levels and that this low level of 5 mC is a poor prognostic factor in Glioblastoma Multiforme patients. We also show that folate supplementation enhanced the DNA remethylation through the Sp1/Sp3-mediated transcriptional up-regulation of genes coding for Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b proteins, two de novo methyltranferases. Finally, we show that the folate-induced DNA methylation limits proliferation and increases the sensitivity to temozolomide-induced apoptosis in glioma cells through methylation of the genes implicated in these processes (PDGF-B, MGMT, survivin, and bcl-w).
Conclusion: This study suggests that folate supplementation could be a promising adjuvant for the future design of antiglioma therapies in preclinical and/or clinical studies.