The hypermethylation of the CpG islands is a common mechanism for the inactivation of tumor-related genes. In the present study, we analyzed the methylation status of genes for cell repair such as hMLH1, MGMT, and GSTP1, and a gastric cancer-specifically methylated DNA fragment, MINT 25 in gastric cancer cases and control groups. The study population consisted of 100 gastric cancer patients (50 distal and 50 proximal carcinomas), and 238 healthy controls. All genes showed more frequent hypermethylation in the cases than in the control group (p<0.0001). We investigated the association between promoter hypermethylation and relevant parameters including age, gender, alcohol consumption, smoking, and family history. There was a common hypermethylation of hMLH1 (p=0.008), MGMT (p=0.0001), and GSTP1 (p=0.0003) in females. This study also demonstrates that hypermethylation was strongly associated with non-drinkers (MGMT, p=0.046 and MINT 25, p=0.049) and non-smokers (hMLH1, p=0.044; MGMT, p=0.0003; MINT 25, p=0.029). Moreover, the frequency of MINT 25 hypermethylation increased with age (p=0.037), and MGMT methylation was frequently detected in distal gastric cancer than in proximal type (p=0.038). Our study suggested that promoter hypermethylation of the genes involved in cell repair system and MINT 25 is associated strongly with some subgroups of primary gastric carcinoma.
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