Changes in DNA methylation are well documented in cancer development and progression and are typically identified through analyses of genomic DNA. The capability of monitoring tumor-specific methylation changes in circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) has the potential to improve the sensitivity of ctDNA for the diagnosis and prognosis of solid tumors. In this study we profiled the methylation of seven gene targets (all known to be hypermethylated in metastatic melanoma) within the plasma of patients with advanced melanoma using amplicon-based next generation sequencing of bisulfite-treated DNA. Hypermethylation of 6/7 gene targets, including paraoxonase 3 (PON3) was significantly elevated in patients with metastatic melanoma (n = 4) compared to healthy control samples (n = 5). In addition, the degree of hypermethylation of PON3 and MEOX2 were significantly correlated with ctDNA copy number in melanoma patients, confirming the utility of methylated ctDNA in the absence of tumor mutation data for genes such as BRAF, RAS or EGFR.
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- bisulfite conversion