Background: Patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's colonic disease are at increased risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC). The aim of the study was to analyze the methylation status of selected genes as a risk marker for CRC in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients.
Methods: We evaluated the methylation status of four genes (TGFB2, SLIT2, HS3ST2, and TMEFF2) in biopsies of four groups of patients: 60 patients with sporadic CRC, 32 patients with IBD-associated neoplasia, 85 patients with IBD without associated neoplasia (20 at high risk and 65 at low risk), and 28 healthy controls. Methylation-specific melting curve analysis (MS-MCA) was used. Methylation status of these genes was also assessed in stool DNA from 60 IBD patients without neoplasia.
Results: Methylation of the panel of genes analyzed was a very common phenomenon (78%) in IBD-associated neoplasia. The prevalence of methylation in adjacent nonneoplastic mucosa was also high (12/30). This prevalence was higher than in mucosa from healthy controls (2/28;7.1%; P < 0.05). Methylation of SLIT2 and TMEFF2 was more frequently detected in the mucosa of IBD patients at high risk of dysplasia or cancer (15/20) than patients at low risk (32/63) (P = 0.05 and P = 0.03, respectively). When stool samples were assessed, only SLIT2 gene methylation was more frequently methylated in the group of patients at high risk of dysplasia or cancer (4/16) compared to low risk (0/37) (P = 0.006).
Conclusions: Analysis of a panel of methylation markers may help in the early identification of colorectal dysplasia or cancer in high-risk IBD patients.