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The epigenetic silencing of tumor suppressor genes by promoter methylation plays an increasingly important role in cancer research. A number of studies have reported the contribution of HIC1 promoter methylation towards the occurrence and development of solid tumors, even though HIC1 promoter methylation has also been found in normal and benign tissue samples. We sought to perform a more accurate and comprehensive meta-analysis to assess the association between HIC1 promoter methylation and cancer risk. We searched and retrieved all published studies on HIC1 promoter methylation in PubMed, Google Scholar, Embase, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science databases. After two reviewers checked the studies and extracted the necessary data independently, the meta-analysis was performed using STATA 12.0 software. A total of 14 case-control studies (949 cancer patients, 282 benign, and 371 normal controls) were included in our study. We report a significantly elevated HIC1 promoter methylation in tumor samples compared to normal (OR = 7.02, 95 % CI 3.12-15.78, P < 0.001) and benign controls (OR = 2.69, 95 % CI 1.13-6.42, P = 0.025). Subgroup analysis stratified by ethnicity showed a significantly reduced heterogeneity among North American (I2 = 0.0 %, P = 0.502) and European (I2 = 33.7 %, P = 0.183) samples. In addition, heterogeneity was significantly reduced among MSP based detection method (I2= 36.4 %, P = 0.139) when samples were stratified based on the methylation detection methods. The overall outcome demonstrated that HIC1 promoter methylation may be involved in the occurrence and development of solid tumors and has the potential to serve as an epigenetic maker in various specific tumors.
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