Methylated DNA markers for plasma detection of ovarian cancer: Discovery, validation, and clinical feasibility

Lisa M. Marinelli, John B. Kisiel, Seth W. Slettedahl, Douglas W. Mahoney, Maureen A. Lemens, Vijayalakshmi Shridhar, William R. Taylor, Julie K. Staub, Xiaoming Cao, Patrick H. Foote, Kelli N. Burger, Calise K. Berger, Maria C. O'Connell, Karen A. Doering, Maria Giakoumopoulos, Hannah Berg, Carla Volkmann, Adam Solsrud, Hatim T. Allawi, Michael KaiserAbram M. Vaccaro, Catherine Albright Crawford, Cynthia Moehlenkamp, Gracie Shea, Melissa S. Deist, J. Kenneth Schoolmeester, Sarah E. Kerr, Mark E. Sherman, Jamie N. Bakkum-Gamez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Aberrant DNA methylation is an early event in carcinogenesis which could be leveraged to detect ovarian cancer (OC) in plasma. Methods: DNA from frozen OC tissues, benign fallopian tube epithelium (FTE), and buffy coats from cancer-free women underwent reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (RRBS) to identify OC MDMs. Candidate MDM selection was based on receiver operating characteristic (ROC) discrimination, methylation fold change, and low background methylation among controls. Blinded biological validation was performed using methylated specific PCR on DNA extracted from independent OC and FTE FFPE tissues. MDMs were tested using Target Enrichment Long-probe Quantitative Amplified Signal (TELQAS) assays in pre-treatment plasma from women newly diagnosed with OC and population-sampled healthy women. A random forest modeling analysis was performed to generate predictive probability of disease; results were 500-fold in silico cross-validated. Results: Thirty-three MDMs showed marked methylation fold changes (10 to >1000) across all OC subtypes vs FTE. Eleven MDMs (GPRIN1, CDO1, SRC, SIM2, AGRN, FAIM2, CELF2, RIPPLY3, GYPC, CAPN2, BCAT1) were tested on plasma from 91 women with OC (73 (80%) high-grade serous (HGS)) and 91 without OC; the cross-validated 11-MDM panel highly discriminated OC from controls (96% (95% CI, 89–99%) specificity; 79% (69–87%) sensitivity, and AUC 0.91 (0.86–0.96)). Among the 5 stage I/II HGS OCs included, all were correctly identified. Conclusions: Whole methylome sequencing, stringent filtering criteria, and biological validation yielded candidate MDMs for OC that performed with high sensitivity and specificity in plasma. Larger plasma-based OC MDM studies, including testing of pre-diagnostic specimens, are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-576
Number of pages9
JournalGynecologic oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Carcinoma, ovarian epithelial/prevention & control
  • Cell-free nucleic acids
  • DNA methylation
  • Liquid biopsy
  • Ovarian neoplasm/diagnosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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