Gloria Ravegnini 1 , Juan Manuel Zolezzi Moraga 1 , 2 , Francesca Maffei 3 , Muriel Musti 4 , Corrado Zenesini 5 , Vittorio Simeon 6 , Giulia Sammarini 1 , Davide Festi 7 , Patrizia Hrelia 1 , Sabrina Angelini 1 , *
01 December 2015
One challenge in colorectal cancer (CRC) is identifying novel biomarkers to be introduced in screening programs. The present study investigated the promoter methylation status of the SEPT9 gene in peripheral blood samples of subjects’ positive fecal occult blood test (FOBT). In order to add new insights, we investigated the association between SEPT9 promoter methylation and micronuclei frequency, and polymorphisms in the folate-related pathway genes. SEPT9 promoter methylation, micronuclei frequency, and genotypes were evaluated on 74 individuals’ FOBT positive. Individuals were subjected to a colonoscopy that provided written informed consent for study participation. SEPT9 promoter methylation status was significantly lower in the CRC group than controls ( p = 0.0006). In contrast, the CaCo2 cell-line, analyzed as a tissue specific model of colon adenocarcinoma, showed a significantly higher percentage of SEPT9 promoter methylation compared to the CRC group ( p < 0.0001). Linear regression analysis showed an inverse correlation between micronuclei frequency and the decrease in the methylation levels of SEPT9 promoter region among CRC patients (β = −0.926, p = 0.0001). With regard to genotype analysis, we showed the involvement of the DHFR polymorphism (rs70991108) in SEPT9 promoter methylation level in CRC patients only. In particular, the presence of at least one 19 bp del allele significantly correlates with decreased SEPT9 promoter methylation, compared to the 19 bp ins/ins genotype ( p = 0.007). While remaining aware of the strengths and limitations of the study, this represents the first evidence of a novel approach for the early detection of CRC, using SEPT9 promoter methylation, micronuclei frequency and genotypes, with the potential to improve CRC risk assessment.