Surrogate end-point biomarkers are being developed as indicators of the efficacy of chemopreventive agents. These biomarkers are molecular and biological end-points that can be modulated by chemopreventive agents in accordance with their efficacy to prevent cancer. DNA hypomethylation is a common alteration found in colon tumors that has the potential of being modulated by chemopreventive agents and thus being useful as a surrogate end-point biomarker. Agents that were either effective or ineffective in preventing colon cancer were evaluated for the ability to modulate DNA hypomethylation in azoxymethane-induced colon tumors in male F344 rats. DNA methylation was determined by Dot Blot Analysis using a mouse monoclonal anti-5-methylcytosine antibody. Colon tumors had a 70% reduction in DNA methylation relative to normal colonic mucosa. DNA methylation in the tumors was increased by 7 days of treatment with agents that have been shown to prevent colon cancer (calcium chloride, α-diflouromethylornithine [DFMO], piroxicam, and sulindac), whereas agents shown not to prevent colon cancer in rats (low dose aspirin, 2-carboxyphenyl retinamide [2-CPR], quercetin, 9-cis retinoic acid, and rutin) did not increase DNA methylation. The results suggest that the ability to reverse the DNA hypomethylation in colon tumors could be useful as a surrogate end-point biomarker for chemoprevention of colon cancer. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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