Decelerated DNA methylation age predicts poor prognosis of breast cancer

Ren, Jun-Ting; Wang, Mei-Xia; Su, Yi; Tang, Lu-Ying; Ren, Ze-Fang

DNA methylation (DNAm) age was found to be an indicator for all-cause mortality, cancer incidence, and longevity, but no study has involved in the associations of DNAm age with the prognosis of breast cancer.

We retrieved information of 1076 breast cancer patients from Genomic Data Commons (GDC) data portal on March 30, 2017, including breast cancer DNAm profiling, demographic features, clinicopathological parameters, recurrence, and all-cause fatality. Horvath’s method was applied to calculate the DNAm age. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to test the associations between DNAm age of the cancerous tissues and the prognosis (recurrence of breast cancer and all-cause fatality) with or without adjusting for chronological age and clinicopathological parameters.

The DNAm age was markedly decelerated in the patients who were premenopausal, ER or PR negative, HER2-enriched or basal-like than their counterparts. In the first five-year follow-up dataset for survival, every ten-year increase in DNAm age was associated with a 15% decrease in fatality; subjects with DNAm age in the second (HR: 0.52; 95%CI: 0.29–0.92), the third (HR: 0.49; 95%CI: 0.27–0.87) and the fourth quartile (HR: 0.38; 95%CI: 0.20–0.72) had significant longer survival time than those in the first quartile. In the first five-year follow-up dataset for recurrence, every ten-year increase in DNAm age was associated with a 14% decrease of the recurrence; in the categorical analysis, a clear dose-response was shown (P for trend =0.02) and the fourth quartile was associated with a longer recurrence free survival (HR: 0.32; 95%CI: 0.14–0.74). In the full follow-up dataset, similar results were obtained.

DNAm age of breast cancer tissue, which associated with menopausal status and pathological features, was a strong independent predictor of the prognosis. It was suggested that the prognosis of breast cancer was related to intrinsic biological changes and specific molecular targets for treatment of breast cancer may be implicit.


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March 8, 2019


DNA methylation age, Breast cancer, Prognosis