MGMT promoter methylation and correlation with protein expression in primary central nervous system lymphoma

L. Toffolatti, E. Scquizzato, S. Cavallin, F. Canal, M. Scarpa, P. M. Stefani, F. Gherlinzoni, A. P. Dei Tos

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The O6-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase (MGMT) gene encodes for a DNA repairing enzyme of which silencing by promoter methylation is involved in brain tumorigenesis. MGMT promoter methylation represents a favorable prognostic factor and has been associated with a better response to alkylating agents in glioma and systemic lymphoma. Primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) is a rare and aggressive extranodal malignant lymphoma. The current standard of care, based on high-dose methotrexate chemotherapy, has improved prognosis but outcome remains poor for a majority of patients. Therapeutic progress in this field is conditioned by limited biological and molecular knowledge about the disease. Temozolomide has recently emerged as an alternative option for PCNSL treatment. We aimed to analyze the MGMT gene methylation status in a series of 24 PCNSLs, to investigate the relationship between methylation status of the gene and immunohistochemical expression of MGMT protein and to evaluate the possible prognostic significance of these biomarkers. Our results confirm that methylation of the MGMT gene and loss of MGMT protein are frequent events in these lymphomas (54 % of our cases) and suggest that they are gender and age related. MGMT methylation showed high correlation with loss of protein expression (concordance correlation coefficient = −0.49; Fisher exact test: p <0.01), different from what has been observed in other brain tumors. In the subgroup of ten patients who received high dose chemotherapy, the presence of methylated MGMT promoter (n = 4), seems to be associated with a prolonged overall survival (>60 months in three of four patients). The prognostic significance of these molecular markers in PCNSL needs to be further studied in groups of patients treated in a homogeneous way.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-586
Number of pages8
JournalVirchows Archiv
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Alkylating agents
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • MGMT
  • Primary central nervous system lymphoma
  • Promoter methylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Medicine(all)


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