Epigenetic Homogeneity Within Colorectal Tumors Predicts Shorter Relapse-Free and Overall Survival Times for Patients With Locoregional Cancer

Anna Martínez-Cardús, Sebastian Moran, Eva Musulen, Cátia Moutinho, Jose L. Manzano, Eva Martinez-Balibrea, Montserrat Tierno, Elena Élez, Stefania Landolfi, Patricia Lorden, Carles Arribas, Fabian Müller, Christoph Bock, Josep Tabernero, Manel Esteller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 AGA Institute Background & Aims There are few validated biomarkers that can be used to predict outcomes for patients with colorectal cancer. Part of the challenge is the genetic and molecular heterogeneity of colorectal tumors not only among patients, but also within tumors. We have explored intratumor heterogeneity at the epigenetic level, due to its dynamic nature. We analyzed DNA methylation profiles of the digestive tract surface and the central bulk and invasive front regions of colorectal tumors. Methods We determined the DNA methylation profiles of >450,000 CpG sites in 3 macrodissected regions of 79 colorectal tumors and 23 associated liver metastases, obtained from 2 hospitals in Spain. We also analyzed samples for KRAS and BRAF mutations, 499,170 single nucleotide polymorphisms, and performed immunohistochemical analyses. Results We observed differences in DNA methylation among the 3 tumor sections; regions of tumor−host interface differed the most from the other tumor sections. Interestingly, tumor samples collected from areas closer to the gastrointestinal transit most frequently shared methylation events with metastases. When we calculated individual coefficients to quantify heterogeneity, we found that epigenetic homogeneity was significantly associated with short time of relapse-free survival (log-rank P =.037) and short time of overall survival (log-rank P =.026) in patients with locoregional colorectal cancer. Conclusions In an analysis of 79 colorectal tumors, we found significant heterogeneity in patterns of DNA methylation within each tumor; the level of heterogeneity correlates with times of relapse-free and overall survival.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)961-972
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Colorectal Cancer
  • DNA Methylation
  • Epigenetics
  • Heterogeneity

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