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Identifying Renal Transplant Patients at Risk for Squamous Cell Carcinoma by DNA Methylation of T Cells

By: Sarah Campen, PharmD
Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Researchers in the Netherlands have discovered that DNA methylation of T cells from kidney transplant patients with a future de novo post-transplant cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma may be different from that in patients without cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. Their study, published in Clinical Epigenetics, identified 16 differentially methylated regions in T cells involved in the development of skin cancer in this patient population.

“Identification of patients at increased risk for post-transplant [cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma] before transplantation will allow for early clinical interventions such as regular visits to the dermatologist and stricter lifestyle advice to the patient to minimize additional sun exposure,” stated Karin Boer, PhD, of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues.

The investigators focused on 27 kidney transplant patients with a future de novo squamous cell carcinoma after transplantation and 27 transplant patients without squamous cell carcinoma. They studied the genome-wide DNA methylation of T cells from samples obtained prior to transplantation. They also examined the DNA methylation of T cells after transplantation in 11 of the 27 patients with skin cancer to assess the stability of the observed differences.

The majority of differentially methylated regions were located in regulatory genomic regions such as flanking bivalent transcription start sites and bivalent enhancer regions. The longitudinal analysis revealed that DNA methylation of nine differentially methylated regions changed significantly after transplantation.

“Ultimately, [identification of patients at increased risk] may lead to adjustment of the immunosuppressive load but this remains a fine balance between reducing the risk for cancer and causing irreversible damage to the allograft,” concluded Dr. Boer and colleagues.

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