Research Papers:

Prognostic value of aberrant promoter hypermethylation of tumor-related genes in early-stage head and neck cancer

Kiyoshi Misawa _, Daiki Mochizuki, Atsushi Imai, Shiori Endo, Masato Mima, Yuki Misawa, Takeharu Kanazawa, Thomas E. Carey and Hiroyuki Mineta

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:26087-26098. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8317

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Kiyoshi Misawa1, Daiki Mochizuki1, Atsushi Imai1, Shiori Endo1, Masato Mima1, Yuki Misawa1, Takeharu Kanazawa2, Thomas E. Carey3, Hiroyuki Mineta1

1Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Shizuoka, Japan

2Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, Jichi Medical University, Tochigi, Japan

3Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, Laboratory of Head and Neck Cancer Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Correspondence to:

Kiyoshi Misawa, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: tumor-suppressor genes, hypermethylation, head and neck cancer, metastases, biomarker

Received: November 03, 2015    Accepted: March 11, 2016    Published: March 24, 2016


Staging and pathological grading are useful, but imperfect predictors of recurrence in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Accordingly, molecular biomarkers that predict the risk of recurrence are necessary to improve clinical outcomes. The methylation statuses of the promoters of 11 tumor-related genes (p16, RASSF1A, E-cadherin, H-cadherin, MGMT, DAPK, DCC, COL1A2, TAC1, SST, and GALR1) were analyzed in 133 HNSCC cases using quantitative methylation-specific PCR. We detected frequent methylation of p16 (44%), RASSF1A (18%), E-cadherin (53%), H-cadherin (35%), MGMT (35%), DAPK (53%), DCC (42%), COL1A2 (44%), TAC1 (61%), SST (64%), and GALR1 (44%) in HNSCC. Disease-free survival was lower in patients with 6–11 methylated genes than in those with 0–5 methylated genes (log-rank test, P = 0.001). In a multivariate Cox proportional hazards analysis, the methylation of E-cadherin, COL1A2, TAC1, and GALR1 was associated with poor survival, with hazard ratios of 4.474 (95% CI, 1.241–16.124). In a joint analysis of these four genes, patients with 2–4 methylated genes had a significantly lower survival rate than those with 0–1 methylated genes in early-stage HNSCC. Importantly, the methylation of some genes was closely related to poor prognosis in early-stage HNSCC, providing strong evidence that these hypermethylated genes are valuable biomarkers for prognostic evaluation.

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