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Louise Stögbauer, Christian Thomas, Andrea Wagner, Nils Warneke, Eva Christine Bunk, Oliver Grauer, Julian Canisius, Werner Paulus, Walter Stummer, Volker Senner, and Benjamin Brokinkel


Chemotherapeutic options for meningiomas refractory to surgery or irradiation are largely unknown. Human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) promoter methylation with subsequent TERT expression and telomerase activity, key features in oncogenesis, are found in most high-grade meningiomas. Therefore, the authors investigated the impact of the demethylating agent decitabine (5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine) on survival and DNA methylation in meningioma cells.


hTERT promoter methylation, telomerase activity, TERT expression, and cell viability and proliferation were investigated prior to and after incubation with decitabine in two benign (HBL-52 and Ben-Men 1) and one malignant (IOMM-Lee) meningioma cell line. The global effects of decitabine on DNA methylation were additionally explored with DNA methylation profiling.


High levels of TERT expression, telomerase activity, and hTERT promoter methylation were found in IOMM-Lee and Ben-Men 1 but not in HBL-52 cells. Decitabine induced a dose-dependent significant decrease of proliferation and viability after incubation with doses from 1 to 10 μM in IOMM-Lee but not in HBL-52 or Ben-Men 1 cells. However, effects in IOMM-Lee cells were not related to TERT expression, telomerase activity, or hTERT promoter methylation. Genome-wide methylation analyses revealed distinct demethylation of 14 DNA regions after drug administration in the decitabine-sensitive IOMM-Lee but not in the decitabine-resistant HBL-52 cells. Differentially methylated regions covered promoter regions of 11 genes, including several oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes that to the authors' knowledge have not yet been described in meningiomas.


Decitabine decreases proliferation and viability in high-grade but not in benign meningioma cell lines. The effects of decitabine are TERT independent but related to DNA methylation changes of promoters of distinct tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes.