Background: Breast-cancer metastasis suppressor 1 (BRMS1) gene encodes for a predominantly nuclear protein that differentially regulates the expression of multiple genes, leading to suppression of metastasis without blocking orthotropic tumour growth. The aim of the present study was to evaluate for the first time the prognostic significance of BRMS1 promoter methylation in cell-free DNA (cfDNA) circulating in plasma of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Towards this goal, we examined the methylation status of BRMS1 promoter in NSCLC tissues, matched adjacent non-cancerous tissues and corresponding cfDNA as well as in an independent cohort of patients with advanced NSCLC and healthy individuals.
Methods: Methylation of BRMS1 promoter was examined in 57 NSCLC tumours and adjacent non-cancerous tissues, in cfDNA isolated from 48 corresponding plasma samples, in cfDNA isolated from plasma of 74 patients with advanced NSCLC and 24 healthy individuals.
Results: The BRMS1 promoter was highly methylated both in operable NSCLC primary tissues (59.6%) and in corresponding cfDNA (47.9%) but not in cfDNA from healthy individuals (0%), while it was also highly methylated in cfDNA from advanced NSCLC patients (63.5%). In operable NSCLC, Kaplan-Meier estimates were significantly different in favour of patients with non-methylated BRMS1 promoter in cfDNA, concerning both disease-free interval (DFI) (P=0.048) and overall survival (OS) (P=0.007). In advanced NSCLC, OS was significantly different in favour of patients with non-methylated BRMS1 promoter in their cfDNA (P=0.003). Multivariate analysis confirmed that BRMS1 promoter methylation has a statistical significant influence both on operable NSCLC patients' DFI time and OS and on advanced NSCLC patients' PFS and OS.
Conclusions: Methylation of BRMS1 promoter in cfDNA isolated from plasma of NSCLC patients provides important prognostic information and merits to be further evaluated as a circulating tumour biomarker.