Objective: To explore the feasibility of DNA methylation analysis for the detection of cervical neoplasia in self-obtained cervico-vaginal lavages.
Methods: Lavages collected by a self-sampling device and paired cervical scrapings were obtained from 20 cervical cancer patients and 23 patients referred with an abnormal cervical smear (15 with high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN2+) and 8 without CIN). All lavages and scrapings were analyzed by liquid based cytology (LBC), Hybrid Capture II (HC-II) for hr-HPV DNA detection and by DNA methylation analysis (JAM3, TERT, EPB41L3 and C13ORF18). Concordance between lavages and scrapings was measured by Cohen's Kappa (k).
Results: In lavages and scrapings from cervical cancer patients (n=20), methylation analysis was positive in 19 (95%) and 19 (95%), HC-II in 16 (80%) and 15 (75%) and LBC in 15 (75%) and 19 (95%), respectively. In lavages and scrapings from CIN2+ patients (n=15), methylation analysis was positive in 10 (67%) and 12 (80%), HC-II in 15 (100%) and 15 (100%) and LBC in 11 (73%) and 12 (80%), respectively. Concordance between cervical scrapings and lavages (n=43) was for LBC k=0.522 (p<0.001), hr-HPV testing k=0.551 (p<0.001) and DNA methylation analysis k=0.653 (p<0.001).
Conclusions: DNA methylation analysis in cervico-vaginal lavages obtained by a self-sampling device is feasible and its diagnostic performance appears to be at least comparable to the detection of cervical neoplasia by cytomorphology and hr-HPV. Our pilot study suggests that detection of cervical neoplasia by DNA methylation analysis in cervico-vaginal lavages warrants exploration of its use in large prospective studies.
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