DNA epigenetic signature predictive of benefit from neoadjuvant chemotherapy in oesophageal adenocarcinoma: results from the MRC OE02 trial

Raghav Sundar, Alvin Ng, Hermioni Zouridis, Nisha Padmanabhan, Taotao Sheng, Shenli Zhang, Ming Hui Lee, Wen Fong Ooi, Aditi Qamra, Imran Inam, Lindsay C. Hewitt, Jimmy Bok-Yan So, Vivien Koh, Matthew G. Nankivell, Ruth E. Langley, William H. Allum, David Cunningham, Steven G. Rozen, Wei Peng Yong, Heike I. Grabsch*Patrick Tan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: DNA methylation signatures describing distinct histological subtypes of oesophageal cancer have been reported. We studied DNA methylation in samples from the MRC OE02 phase III trial, which randomised patients with resectable oesophageal cancer to surgery alone (S) or neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by surgery (CS).

Aim: The aim of the study was to identify epigenetic signatures predictive of chemotherapy benefit in patients with oesophageal adenocarcinoma (OAC) from the OE02 trial and validate the findings in an independent cohort.

Methods: DNA methylation was analysed using the Illumina GoldenGate platform on surgically resected OAC specimens from patients in the OE02 trial. Cox proportional hazard analysis was performed to select probes predictive of survival in the CS arm. Non-negative matrix factorisation was used to perform clustering and delineate DNA methylation signatures. The findings were validated in an independent cohort of patients with gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Results: A total of 229 patients with OAC were analysed from the OE02 trial (118 in the CS arm and 111 in the S arm). There was no difference in DNA methylation status between the CS and S arms. A metagene signature was created by dichotomising samples into two clusters. In cluster 1, patients in the CS arm had significant overall survival (OS) benefit (median OS CS: 931 days vs. S: 536 days [HR: 1.54, P = 0.031]). In cluster 2, patients in the CS arm had similar (or worse) OS compared with patients in the S arm (CS: 348 days vs. S: 472 days [HR: 0.70, P = 0.1], and test of interaction was significant (p = 0.005). In the validation cohort (n = 13), there was no difference in DNA methylation status in paired pre- and post-treatment samples. When the epigenetic signature was applied, cluster 1 samples had better OS (median OS, cluster 1: 1174 days vs. cluster 2: 392 days, HR: 3.47, p = 0.059)

Conclusions: This is the first and largest study of DNA methylation in patients with OAC uniformly treated in a randomised phase III trial. We identified an epigenetic signature that may serve as a predictive biomarker for chemotherapy benefit in OAC. (C) 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-57
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Epigenetic signature
  • DNA methylation
  • Predictive biomarker
  • Chemotherapy
  • Oesophageal adenocarcinoma

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