Folate deficiency and aberrant DNA methylation and expression of FHIT gene were associated with cervical pathogenesis

Qiaoling Li, Ling Ding, Nan Jing, Chunliang Liu, Zuokai Yang, Fang Chen, Lifang Hou, Jintao Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Aberrant DNA methylation is a recognized feature in various types of human cancer, and folate has a vital role in the epigenetics of mammalian cells by supplying methyl groups for DNA methylation reactions. Fragile histidine triad (FHIT) is a tumor suppressor gene that is frequently silenced in cervical cancer (CC) and preneoplastic lesions. Promoter hypermethylation was previously observed in CC, and its epigenetic silencing has been observed at mRNA or protein levels. Changes in folate intake to modulate DNA methylation may be a mechanistic link to cancer, but this remains to be elucidated. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the influences of folate on FHIT gene methylation and expression in the progression of cervical cancerization. In the present study, red blood cell (RBC) folate levels, FHIT gene methylation status, and mRNA and protein expression levels were detected in 254 women, including normal cervix (NC, n=80), cervical intraepithelial neoplasm grade 1 (CIN1, n=55; CIN2/3, n=55) and cervical squamous cell carcinoma (SCC, n=64) samples. The methylation status of FHIT gene and its mRNA and protein expression levels were measured in CaSki (HPV16 positive) and C33A (HPV16 negative) CC cells treated with different concentrations of folate. The results indicated that FHIT gene methylation rate increased with the severity of cervix lesions, however, RBC folate levels, FHIT mRNA and protein expression levels were reduced. The proliferation inhibition rate, apoptosis rate, and FHIT protein and mRNA expression levels increased along with rising concentrations of folate, whereas the degree of FHIT gene methylation gradually weakened in CaSki or C33A cell lines. The present findings indicated that folate deficiency, FHIT gene promoter hypermethylation and reduced expression were significantly associated with cervical carcinogenesis. The results indicated that folate was able to enhance apoptosis and inhibit the cervical cell proliferation while regulating FHIT gene methylation and expression. Adequate intake of folate to maintain normal DNA methylation status is an effective way for cervical lesions prevention, and demethylation treatment may offer a new strategy for therapy of CC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1963-1972
Number of pages10
JournalOncology Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • Cervical cancer cells
  • Cervical cancerization
  • Expression
  • FHIT gene
  • Folate
  • Methylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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