Background: Aberrant promoter hypermethylation has been recognized in human breast carcinogenesis as a frequent molecular alteration associated with the loss of expression of a number of key regulatory genes and may serve as a biomarker. The E-cadherin gene (CDH1), mapping at chromosome 16q22, is an intercellular adhesion molecule in epithelial cells, which plays an important role in establishing and maintaining intercellular connections. The aim of our study was to assess the methylation pattern of CDH1 and to correlate it with the expression of E-cadherin, clinicopathological parameters and hormone receptor status in breast cancer patients of Kashmir. Materials and
Methods: Methylation specific PCR (MSP) was used to determine the methylation status of CDH1 in 128 invasive ductal carcinomas (IDCs) paired with the corresponding normal tissue samples. Immunohistochemistry was used to study the expression of E-cadherin, ER and PR.
Results: CDH1 hypermethylation was detected in 57.8% of cases and 14.8% of normal adjacent controls. Reduced levels of E-cadherin protein were observed in 71.9% of our samples. Loss of E-cadherin expression was significantly associated with the CDH1 promoter region methylation (p<0.05, OR=3.48, CI: 1.55-7.79). Hypermethylation of CDH1 was significantly associated with age at diagnosis (p=0.030), tumor size (p=0.008), tumor grade (p=0.024) and rate of node positivity or metastasis (p=0.043).
Conclusions: Our preliminary findings suggest that abnormal CDH1 methylation occurs in high frequencies in infiltrating breast cancers associated with a decrease in E-cadherin expression. We found significant differences in tumor-related CDH1 gene methylation patternsrelevant to tumor grade, tumor size, nodal involvement and age at diagnosis of breast tumors, which could be extended in future to provide diagnostic and prognostic information.