Objectives: Oncogenic activation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway is common in human cancers, including cervical cancer. The secreted frizzled-related proteins (SFRPs) function as negative regulators of Wnt signaling and play an important role in carcinogenesis. Frequent promoter hypermethylation of SFRPs has been identified in human cancers; however, the precise role of SFRPs in cervical cancer is not clear. Methods: The methylation status of SFRPs gene family was analyzed in two cervical cancer cell lines and a full spectrum of cervical neoplasia, including 45 low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LSIL), 49 high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL), 109 squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), and 45 normal controls. Results: The SFRP1 promoter was hypermethylated in 33.9% of SCC, 8.2% of HSIL, 2.2% of LSIL, but not in normal tissues. The SFRP2 promoter was hypermethylated in 80.7% of SCC, 16.3% of HSIL, 15.6% LSIL and 4.4% normal tissues. The SFRP4 promoter was hypermethylated in 67.9% of SCC, 36.7% of HSIL, 4.4% of LSIL, but not in normal tissues. The SFRP5 promoter was hypermethylated in 10.1% of SCC, 4.1% of HSIL, 13.3% of LSIL and 4.4% normal tissues. The frequency of SFRP1, SFRP2 and SFRP4 promoter methylation in tumors was significantly higher than in normal, LSIL, and HSIL samples (P < 0.0001). SFRP5 methylation was significantly different in patients with or without lymph-node metastases (0% vs 15.2%, respectively, P < 0.05). Conclusions: Our data suggest that promoter hypermethylation of SFRP1, SFRP2 and SFRP4 is associated with cervical carcinogenesis, which could be used for molecular screening of cervical neoplasias in future.
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