Oral lichen planus (OLP) is a common oral mucosal disease, which is generally considered a potentially malignant lesion. To identify efficiently prognostic biomarker, we investigated the microRNA-137 (miR-137) promoter methylation in OLP and compared with the samples from healthy volunteers and patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). A total of 20 OLP and 12 patients with OSCC as well as 10 healthy subjects were subjected to miR-137 promoter methylation analysis using methylation-specific PCR (MSP). To address the malignancy prediction potential from miR-137 promoter methylation status, methylation of the p16 gene, a well-known tumor suppressor, was investigated in the same samples. The p16 methylation and miR-137 promoter methylation were found to be 25% and 35% in patients with OLP, 50% and 58.3% in patients with OSCC, and 0% and 0% in healthy subjects, respectively. The differences between miR-137 and p16 methylation levels were statistically significant between healthy controls and patients. Methylation levels of the two promoters were also influenced by age, gender, and lesion duration. Interestingly, aberrant promoter methylation of the p16 and miR-137 genes was only found in the epithelium but not in the connective tissue from patients with OLP. This raises the possibility to use miR-137 methylation as a biomarker for malignant prediction in patients with OLP.
Journal of Oral Pathology and Medicine, 2013, Vol 42, Issue 4, p. 315-321