A sensitive method to quantify human long DNA in stool: Relevance to colorectal cancer screening

Hongzhi Zou, Jonathan J. Harrington, Kristie K. Klatt, David A. Ahlquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Human long DNA in stool may reflect nonapoptotic exfoliation and has been used as a colorectal cancer (CRC) marker. Targeting human-specific Alu repeats represents a logical but untested approach. A real-time Alu PCR assay was developed for quantifying long human DNA in stool and evaluated in this study. The accuracy and reproducibility of this assay and the stability of long DNA during room temperature fecal storage were assessed using selected patient stools and stools added to human DNA. Thereafter, long DNA levels were determined in blinded fashion from 18 CRC patients and 20 colonoscopically normal controls. Reproducibility of real-time Alu PCR for quantifying fecal long DNA was high (r2 = 0.99; P < 0.01). Long DNA levels in nonbuffered stools stored at room temperature fell a median of 75% by 1 day and 81% by 3 days. An EDTA buffer preserved DNA integrity during such storage. Human long DNA was quantifiable in all stools but was significantly higher in stools from CRC patients than from normal controls (P < 0.05). At a specificity of 100%, the sensitivity of long DNA for CRC was 44%. Results indicate that real-time Alu PCR is a simple method to sensitively quantify long human DNA in stool. This study shows that not all CRCs are associated with increased fecal levels of long DNA. Long DNA degrades with fecal storage, and measures to stabilize this analyte must be considered for optimal use of this marker.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1115-1119
Number of pages5
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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