Combined genetic mutations and DNA-methylated genes as biomarkers for endometrial cancer detection from cervical scrapings

Phui Ly Liew, Rui Lan Huang, Tzu I. Wu, Chi Chun Liao, Chien Wen Chen, Po Hsuan Su, Hui Chen Wang, Yu Chun Weng, Hung Cheng Lai

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32 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Endometrial cancer is a common gynecologic cancer. Noninvasive molecular biomarkers for triage of high-risk patients for invasive procedures are needed. Based on the success of cytological Pap smear screening, cervical scrapings are a good source of DNA for molecular testing. In addition to genetic lesions, DNA methylation is a promising biomarker. We assessed the usefulness of combining genetic and epigenetic biomarkers from cervical scrapings to detect endometrial carcinomas. Methods: We performed a retrospective case-control study of 96 consecutive cervical scrapings from patients with abnormal uterine bleeding who underwent surgery for diagnostic evaluation. Thirty and 16 cases were diagnosed with type I and type II endometrial cancers, respectively. The remaining non-cancer cases included normal endometrium (n = 12), benign uterine lesions (n = 20), and endometrial hyperplasia (n = 18). Quantitative methylation-specific PCR and mass spectrometry were used for DNA methylation and genetic mutation analysis. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the clinical performance of these candidate biomarkers. Results: We tested the effectiveness of the methylation status of four genes (BHLHE22, CDO1, TBX5, and HAND2) in endometrial cancer detection. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curves ranged from 0.703 to 0.878, and panels of hypermethylated BHLHE22/CDO1/HAND2 (87.0% sensitivity and 86.0% specificity) and BHLHE22/CDO1/TBX5 (89.1% sensitivity and 80.0% specificity) showed significant differences and could distinguish benign from malignant endometrial lesions. The sensitivity and specificity in endometrial cancer detection for BHLHE22/CDO1 were 84.8% and 88.0%, respectively. Both type I and II endometrial carcinomas could be detected using a BHLHE22/CDO1-based methylation profile, suggesting that they may have common epigenomes. Moreover, PTEN and TP53 mutations were found in 63.3% of type I and 93.6% of type II endometrial cancers. Unexpectedly, PTEN and TP53 mutations were commonly found in cervical scrapings of the normal endometrium (25% and 33.3%, respectively) and in cases with benign uterine lesions (10% and 50%, respectively). Finally, combinations of any one mutation of PTEN and TP53 mutations had a sensitivity of 91.3%, but a specificity of only 42.0%. Conclusions: Adding PTEN/TP53 mutation testing to BHLHE22/CDO1-based methylation testing did not improve the detection of endometrial cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number170
JournalClinical Epigenetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 28 2019


  • Biomarkers
  • Cervical scrapings
  • Endometrial cancer detection
  • Methylation
  • Mutation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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