DNA methylation: potential biomarker in Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Biomark Res. 2014 Mar 17;2(1):5. doi: 10.1186/2050-7771-2-5.


Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common cancers in the world and it is often associated with poor prognosis. Liver transplantation and resection are two currently available curative therapies. However, most patients cannot be treated with such therapies due to late diagnosis. This underscores the urgent need to identify potential markers that ensure early diagnosis of HCC. As more evidences are suggesting that epigenetic changes contribute hepatocarcinogenesis, DNA methylation was poised as one promising biomarker. Indeed, genome wide profiling reveals that aberrant methylation is frequent event in HCC. Many studies showed that differentially methylated genes and CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) status in HCC were associated with clinicopathological data. Some commonly studied hypermethylated genes include p16, SOCS1, GSTP1 and CDH1. In addition, studies have also revealed that methylation markers could be detected in patient blood samples and associated with poor prognosis of the disease. Undeniably, increasing number of methylation markers are being discovered through high throughput genome wide data in recent years. Proper and systematic validation of these candidate markers in prospective cohort is required so that their actual prognostication and surveillance value could be accurately determined. It is hope that in near future, methylation marker could be translate into clinical use, where patients at risk could be diagnosed early and that the progression of disease could be more correctly assessed.