Gastric Cancer Risk Prediction Using Epigenetic Alterations Accumulated in Noncancerous Gastric Tissues

  • Masahiro Maeda
  • Harumi Yamada
  • Hiroshi Moro
  • Toshikazu UshijimaEmail author


Risk prediction for gastric cancer (GC) is important, especially for H. pylori-eradicated individuals whose number is rapidly increasing in Japan. For accurate cancer risk prediction, analysis of epigenetic changes, particularly aberrant DNA methylations, has a great potential. It is induced in the gastric mucosa by H. pylori infection, persists for life, and is causally involved in gastric carcinogenesis. The DNA methylation levels in individuals without current H. pylori infection correlate with GC risk and have a greater impact than that of accumulated point mutations. A methylation marker is necessary to assess the overall epigenomic damage accumulated in the genome of gastric epithelial cells. Initially, CpG islands methylated in GC cells were used. More informative markers were then isolated by an analysis of the gastric mucosa of gastric cancer patients and healthy individuals. Finally, highly informative markers unaffected by contaminating blood cells have been developed using an advanced technology and a screening algorithm. With an aim of bringing epigenetic cancer risk diagnosis into practice, we first conducted a multicenter prospective cohort study for risk prediction of metachronous GC among GC patients who had undergone endoscopic treatment and achieved the first proof of concept. We are currently conducting a new, nationwide study for risk prediction of primary GC among healthy H. pylori-eradicated individuals. Epigenetic cancer risk diagnosis, which was initially developed for GC and potentially applicable to other inflammation-associated cancers, has a great potential to contribute to precision medicine.


Epigenetics Cancer risk DNA methylation Inflammation Field cancerization 



The authors are grateful to Dr. S. Yamashita and H. Takeshima for their advices.

Grant Support: This research was supported by the National Cancer Center Research and Development Fund (H29-E-7), Japan, and by the fund (17ck0106267h0001) for the Practical Research for Innovative Cancer Control from the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, AMED.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest: The authors (MM and TU) made a joint patent application with Sysmex Corporation for identified epigenetic markers.

Ethical Standards: This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Masahiro Maeda
    • 1
    • 2
  • Harumi Yamada
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hiroshi Moro
    • 1
  • Toshikazu Ushijima
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of EpigenomicsNational Cancer Center Research InstituteTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Gastrointestinal SurgeryKyoto University Graduate School of MedicineKyotoJapan

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