Epigenetic silencing of the O(6) -methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) gene promoter is associated with prolonged survival in glioblastoma patients treated with temozolomide (TMZ). We investigated whether glioblastoma recurrence is associated with changes in the promoter methylation status and the expression of MGMT and the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 and PMS2 in pairs of primary and recurrent glioblastomas of 80 patients, including 64 patients treated with radiotherapy and TMZ after the first operation. Among the primary tumors, the MGMT promoter was methylated in 31 patients and unmethylated in 49 patients. In 71 patients (89%), the MGMT promoter methylation status of the primary tumor was retained at recurrence. MGMT promoter methylation, but not MGMT protein expression, was associated with longer progression-free survival, overall survival and postrecurrence survival (PRS). Moreover, PRS was increased under salvage chemotherapy. Investigation of primary and recurrent glioblastomas of 43 patients did not identify promoter methylation in any of the four MMR genes. However, recurrent glioblastomas demonstrated significantly lower MSH2, MSH6 and PMS2 protein expression as detected by immunohistochemistry. In conclusion, reduced expression of MMR proteins, but not changes in MGMT promoter methylation, is characteristic of glioblastomas recurring after the current standards of care.
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