A panel of DNA methylation signature from peripheral blood may predict colorectal cancer susceptibility

Colorectal Cancer

BMC Cancer. 2020 Jul 25;20(1):692. doi: 10.1186/s12885-020-07194-5.


BACKGROUND: Differential DNA methylation panel derived from peripheral blood could serve as biomarkers of CRC susceptibility. However, most of the previous studies utilized post-diagnostic blood DNA which may be markers of disease rather than susceptibility. In addition, only a few studies have evaluated the predictive potential of differential DNA methylation in CRC in a prospective cohort and on a genome-wide basis. The aim of this study was to identify a potential panel of DNA methylation biomarkers in peripheral blood that is associated with CRC risk and therefore serve as epigenetic biomarkers of disease susceptibility.

METHODS: DNA methylation profile of a nested case-control study with 166 CRC and 424 healthy normal subjects were obtained from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database. The differentially methylated markers were identified by moderated t-statistics. The DNA methylation panel was constructed by stepwise logistic regression and the least absolute shrinkage and selection operator in the training dataset. A methylation risk score (MRS) model was constructed and the association between MRS and CRC risk assessed.

RESULTS: We identified 48 differentially methylated CpGs sites, of which 33 were hypomethylated. Of these, sixteen-CpG based MRS that was associated with CRC risk (OR = 2.68, 95% CI: 2.13, 3.38, P < 0.0001) was constructed. This association is confirmed in the testing dataset (OR = 2.02, 95% CI: 1.48, 2.74, P < 0.0001) and persisted in both males and females, younger and older subjects, short and long time-to-diagnosis. The MRS also predicted CRC with AUC 0.82 (95% CI: 0.76, 0.88), indicating high accuracy.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study has identified a novel DNA methylation panel that is associated with CRC and could, if validated be useful for the prediction of CRC risk in the future.