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A novel analytical model of MGMT methylation pyrosequencing offers improved predictive performance in patients with gliomas


The methylation status of the promoter of MGMT gene is a crucial factor influencing clinical decision-making in patients with gliomas. MGMT pyrosequencing results are often dichotomized by a cut-off value based on an average of several tested CpGs. However, this method frequently results in a “gray zone”, representing a dilemma for physicians. We therefore propose a novel analytical model for MGMT methylation pyrosequencing. MGMT CpG heterogeneity was investigated in 213 glioma patients in two tested cohorts: cohort A in which CpGs 75–82 were tested and cohort B in which CpGs 72–78 were tested. The predictive performances of the novel and traditional averaging models were compared in 135 patients who received temozolomide using receiver operating characteristic curves and Kaplan–Meier curves, and in patients stratified according to isocitrate dehydrogenase gene mutation status. The results were validated in an independent cohort of 65 consecutive patients with high-grade gliomas from the Chinese Glioma Genome Atlas database. Heterogeneity of MGMT promoter CpG methylation level was observed in most gliomas. The optimal cut-off value for each individual CpG varied from 4–16%. The current analysis defined MGMT promoter methylation as occurring when at least three CpGs exceeded their respective cut-off values. This novel analysis could accurately predict the prognosis of patients in the methylation “gray zone” according to the standard averaging method, and improved the area under the curves from 0.67, 0.76, and 0.67 to 0.70, 0.84, and 0.72 in cohorts A, B, and the validation cohort, respectively, demonstrating superiority of this analytical method in all three cohorts. Furthermore, the advantages of the novel analysis were retained regardless of WHO grade and isocitrate dehydrogenase gene mutation status. In conclusion, this novel analytical model offers an improved clinical predictive performance for MGMT pyrosequencing results and is suitable for clinical use in patients with gliomas.

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We thank Susan Furness, PhD, from Liwen Bianji, Edanz Group China (, for editing the English text of a draft of this manuscript.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81773208, 81402052); the Beijing Nova Program (Z16110004916082); the National Key Research and Development Plan (2016YFC0902500); the Beijing Scienceand Technology Plan (Z131100006113018, Z141100000214009); and the Capital Medical Development Research Fund (2016-1-1072).

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Correspondence to Yong-Zhi Wang.

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This study was approved by the Beijing Tiantan Hospital institutional review board, and informed consent was obtained from each patient involved in our research.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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