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  • Author: Paul J van Diest x
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Marijn A Vermeulen, Carolien H M van Deurzen, Shusma C Doebar, Wendy W J de Leng, John W M Martens, Paul J van Diest and Cathy B Moelans

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the male breast is very rare and has hardly been studied molecularly. In males, we compared methylation status of 25 breast cancer-related genes in pure DCIS (n = 18) and invasive breast carcinoma (IBC) with adjacent DCIS (DCIS-AIC) (n = 44) using methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification. Results were compared to female breast cancer (BC). There were no significant differences in methylation features between male pure DCIS, DCIS-AIC and IBC after correction for multiple comparisons. In paired analysis of IBC and adjacent DCIS, CADM1 showed a significantly higher absolute methylation percentage in DCIS (P = 0.002). In cluster analysis, two clusters stood out with respectively infrequent and frequent methylation (GATA5, KLLN, PAX6, PAX5, CDH13, MSH6 and WT1 were frequently methylated). Compared to female DCIS, methylation was in general much less common in male DCIS, especially for VHL, ESR1, CDKN2A, CD44, CHFR, BRCA2, RB1 and STK11. In contrast, THBS1 and GATA5 were more frequently methylated in male DCIS. In conclusion, there is frequent methylation of GATA5, KLLN, PAX6, PAX5, CDH13, MSH6 and WT1 in male DCIS. Since there was little change in the methylation status for the studied genes from pure male DCIS to DCIS-AIC and IBC, methylation of these seven genes is more likely to occur early in male breast carcinogenesis. Based on the current markers male DCIS seems to be an epigenetically more advanced precursor of male BC, although in comparison to its female counterpart it appears that fewer loci harbor methylation, pointing to differences between male and female breast carcinogenesis with regard to the studied loci.

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Marijn A Vermeulen, Shusma C Doebar, Carolien H M van Deurzen, John W M Martens, Paul J van Diest and Cathy B Moelans

Characterizing male breast cancer (BC) and unraveling male breast carcinogenesis is challenging because of the rarity of this disease. We investigated copy number status of 22 BC-related genes in 18 cases of pure ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and in 49 cases of invasive carcinoma (IC) with adjacent DCIS (DCIS-AIC) in males using multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA). Results were compared to female BC and correlated with survival. Overall, copy number ratio and aberration frequency including all 22 genes showed no significant difference between the 3 groups. Individual unpaired analysis revealed a significantly higher MTDH copy number ratio in IC compared to DCIS-AIC and pure DCIS (P = 0.009 and P = 0.038, respectively). ADAM9 showed a significantly lower copy number aberration frequency in male BC, compared to female BC (P = 0.020). In DCIS-AIC, MTDH, CPD, CDC6 and TOP2A showed a lower frequency of copy number increase in males compared to females (P < 0.001 for all 4 genes). In IC, CPD gain and CCNE1 gain were independent predictors of poor overall survival. In conclusion, male DCIS and IC showed a similar copy number profile for 21 out of 22 interrogated BC-related genes, illustrating their clonal relation and the genetically advanced state of male DCIS. MTDH showed a higher copy number ratio in IC compared to adjacent and pure DCIS and may therefore play a role in male breast carcinogenesis. Differences were detected between male and female DCIS for 4 genes pointing to differences in breast carcinogenesis between the sexes.

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Jonathan G Bijron, Petra van der Groep, Eleonora B van Dorst, Laura M S Seeber, Daisy M D S Sie-Go, René H M Verheijen and Paul J van Diest

BRCA1/2 germ line mutation carriers have a high risk of developing fallopian tube carcinoma (FTC), thought to occur through different early (p53 signatures) and later (dysplasia, intra-epithelial carcinoma) premalignant stages. Promoter hypermethylation of tumour suppressor genes is known to play a key role in (early) carcinogenesis. However, little is known about methylation in normal and (pre)malignant fallopian tube tissue. We identified 14 areas of p53 accumulation in the fallopian tubes of BRCA mutation carriers. Cells from these areas were harvested together with cells from adjacent benign appearing areas. An age-matched non-BRCA sporadic control group (n=13) and eight sporadic FTCs were included as negative and positive controls respectively. Methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification was used to assess promoter methylation of 70 tumour suppressor genes in all samples. We observed a gradual increase in methylation from sporadic control tissue (median cumulative methylation index (CMI) 568.19) through normal tissue and from areas of p53 accumulation in BRCA carriers (median CMI 687.54 and 676.72) to FTC (median CMI 780.97). Furthermore, the methylation percentage of many individual tumour suppressor genes differed significantly between these groups, gradually increasing as for CMI. Between areas with and without p53 accumulation in BRCA mutation carriers no significant differences were found. In this paper, we have shown that BRCA mutation carriers display increased methylation of tumour suppressor genes in their non-malignant fallopian tube epithelium, closer to methylation levels in FTC than to normal sporadic tissue. Methylation could, therefore, play an important role in the increased risk of gynaecological malignancies in BRCA mutation carriers.

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Laura M S Seeber, Ronald P Zweemer, Luigi Marchionni, Leon F A G Massuger, Vincent T H B M Smit, W Marchien van Baal, René H M Verheijen and Paul J van Diest

Promoter methylation is a gene- and cancer type-specific epigenetic event that plays an important role in tumour development. As endometrioid (endometrioid endometrial carcinoma, EEC) and serous endometrial cancers (uterine papillary serous carcinoma, UPSC) exhibit different clinical, histological and molecular genetic characteristics, we hypothesized that these differences may be reflected in epigenetic phenomena as well. Identification of a panel of methylation biomarkers could be helpful in a correct histological classification of these two subtypes, which solely on the basis of morphology is not always easy. Methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification was used to assess the extent of promoter methylation of different tumour suppressor genes in EEC and UPSC. Methylation results were correlated with histology and survival. The median cumulative methylation index of all genes was significantly higher in EEC (124) than in UPSC (93) (P<0.001). Promoter methylation of CDH13 and MLH1 was more frequently present in EEC, while CDKN2B and TP73 were more frequently methylated in UPSC. Almost 90% of EEC and 70% of UPSC could be predicted by CDH13 and TP73. In EEC, methylation of MLH1 was associated with a shorter disease-free survival (DFS; P<0.0001) and overall survival (OS; P=0.005). In a multivariate model, MLH1 methylation emerged as an additional prognostic factor to stage for DFS (P=0.002). In conclusion, promoter methylation is more common in EEC than UPSC. A panel of methylation biomarkers could be useful to distinguish between the two histological subtypes of endometrial cancer. Furthermore, methylation of MLH1 may have prognostic value in EEC.

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Cathy B Moelans, Joep de Ligt, Petra van der Groep, Pjotr Prins, Nicolle J M Besselink, Marlous Hoogstraat, Natalie D ter Hoeve, Miangela M Lacle, Robert Kornegoor, Carmen C van der Pol, Wendy W J de Leng, Ellis Barbé, Bert van der Vegt, John Martens, Peter Bult, Vincent T H B M Smit, Marco J Koudijs, Isaac J Nijman, Emile E Voest, Pier Selenica, Britta Weigelt, Jorge S Reis-Filho, Elsken van der Wall, Edwin Cuppen and Paul J van Diest

Male breast cancer (MBC) is extremely rare and accounts for less than 1% of all breast malignancies. Therefore, clinical management of MBC is currently guided by research on the disease in females. In this study, DNA obtained from 45 formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) MBCs with and 90 MBCs (52 FFPE and 38 fresh-frozen) without matched normal tissues was subjected to massively parallel sequencing targeting all exons of 1943 cancer-related genes. The landscape of mutations and copy number alterations was compared to that of publicly available estrogen receptor (ER)-positive female breast cancers (smFBCs) and correlated to prognosis. From the 135 MBCs, 90% showed ductal histology, 96% were ER-positive, 66% were progesterone receptor (PR)-positive, and 2% HER2-positive, resulting in 50, 46 and 4% luminal A-like, luminal B-like and basal-like cases, respectively. Five patients had Klinefelter syndrome (4%) and 11% of patients harbored pathogenic BRCA2 germline mutations. The genomic landscape of MBC to some extent recapitulated that of smFBC, with recurrent PIK3CA (36%) and GATA3 (15%) somatic mutations, and with 40% of the most frequently amplified genes overlapping between both sexes. TP53 (3%) somatic mutations were significantly less frequent in MBC compared to smFBC, whereas somatic mutations in genes regulating chromatin function and homologous recombination deficiency-related signatures were more prevalent. MDM2 amplifications were frequent (13%), correlated with protein overexpression (P = 0.001) and predicted poor outcome (P = 0.007). In conclusion, despite similarities in the genomic landscape between MBC and smFBC, MBC is a molecularly unique and heterogeneous disease requiring its own clinical trials and treatment guidelines.