Background: Previous studies have shown adverse effects of CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) on colorectal cancer (CRC) prognosis. However, sample sizes were often limited and only few studies were able to adjust for relevant molecular features associated with CIMP. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of CIMP on CRC survival in a large population-based study with comprehensive adjustment.
Methods: The CIMP status and other molecular tumour features were analysed in 1385 CRC patients diagnosed between 2003 and 2010. Detailed information were obtained from standardised personal interviews and medical records. During follow-up (median: 4.9 years), we assessed vital status, cause of death and therapy details. Cox proportional hazard regression models were used to estimate adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of survival after CRC.
Results: The CIMP-H occurred more frequently in patients with older age, female gender, cancer in the proximal colon, BRAF mutation and microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H). However, CIMP status was not associated with CRC prognosis in CRC patients (HR=1.00; 95% CI=0.72-1.40 for overall survival; HR=0.96; 95% CI=0.65-1.41 for disease-specific survival) or in any of the subgroups. Although CIMP status was associated with the presence of MSI-H and BRAF mutation, the prognostic effects of MSI-H (HR=0.49; 95% CI=0.27-0.90) and BRAF mutation (HR=1.78; 95% CI=1.10-2.84) were independent of CIMP status. Similar benefit of chemotherapy was found for CRC outcomes in both the CIMP-low/negative group and the CIMP-high group.
Conclusions: CpG island methylator phenotype was not associated with CRC prognosis after adjusting for other important clinical factors and associated mutations.