DNA Methylome Distinguishes Head and Neck Cancer from Potentially Malignant Oral Lesions and Healthy Oral Mucosa

Head and Neck Cancer

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Sep 18;21(18):E6853. doi: 10.3390/ijms21186853.


There is a strong need to find new, good biomarkers of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) because of the bad prognoses and high mortality rates. The aim of this study was to identify the potential biomarkers in HNSCC that have differences in their DNA methylome and potentially premalignant oral lesions, in comparison to healthy oral mucosa. In this study, 32 oral samples were tested: nine healthy oral mucosae, 13 HNSCC, and 10 oral lesions for DNA methylation by the Infinium

MethylationEPIC BeadChip. Our findings showed that a panel of genes significantly hypermethylated in their promoters or specific sites in HNSCC samples in comparison to healthy oral samples, which are mainly oncogenes, receptor, and transcription factor genes, or genes included in cell cycle, transformation, apoptosis, and autophagy. A group of hypomethylated genes in HNSCC, in comparison to healthy oral mucosa, are mainly involved in the host immune response and transcriptional regulation. The results also showed significant differences in gene methylation between HNSCC and potentially premalignant oral lesions, as well as differently methylated genes that discriminate between oral lesions and healthy mucosa. The given methylation panels point to novel potential biomarkers for early diagnostics of HNSCC, as well as potentially premalignant oral lesions.