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Analytical Cellular Pathology
Volume 33, Issue 3-4, Pages 143-149

EBV-Infection in Cardiac and Non-Cardiac Gastric Adenocarcinomas is Associated with Promoter Methylation of p16, p14 and APC, but not hMLH1

Helene Geddert,1 Axel zur Hausen,2 Helmut E. Gabbert,1 and Mario Sarbia3

1Institute of Pathology, University Hospital of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany
2Institute of Pathology, University Hospital of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
3Institute of Pathology, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany

Copyright © 2010 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background: Epstein–Barr virus (EBV)-associated gastric carcinomas (GC) constitute a distinct clinicopathological entity of gastric cancer. In order to determine underlying distinct aberrant promoter methylation we tested cardiac and non-cardiac GC with regard to the presence of EBV.

Methods: One hundred GC were tested by RNA-in situ hybridization for the presence of EBV by EBV-encoded small RNA (EBER). Aberrant promoter methylation was investigated by methylation-specific real-time PCR for p16, p14, APC and hMLH1. P16 protein expression was assessed by immunohistochemistry.

Results: In our selected study cohort, EBER-transcripts were detected in 19.6% (18/92) of GC. EBV-positive GC revealed significantly more often gene hypermethylation of p16, p14 and APC (p < 0.0001, p < 0.0001 and p = 0.02, respectively) than EBV-negative GC. The majority of GC with p16 hypermethylation showed a p16 protein loss (22/28). In contrast, no correlation between the presence of EBV and hMLH1 hypermethylation was found (p = 0.7). EBV-positive GC showed a trend towards non-cardiac location (p = 0.06) and lower stages (I/II) according to the WHO (p = 0.05).

Conclusion: Hypermethylation of tumor suppressor genes is significantly more frequent in EBV-associated GC compared to EBV-negative GC. Our data add new insights to the role of EBV in gastric carcinogenesis and underline that EBV-associated GC comprise a distinct molecular-pathologic as well as a distinct clinicopathological entity of GC.