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1.  Frequent occurrence of esophageal cancer in young people in western Kenya 
Esophageal cancer has a strikingly uneven geographical distribution, resulting in focal endemic areas in several countries. One such endemic area is in western Kenya. We conducted a retrospective review of all pathology-confirmed malignancies diagnosed at Tenwek Hospital, Bomet District, between January 1999 and September 2007. Tumor site, histology, sex, age, ethnicity, and location of residence were recorded. Cases were analyzed within and outside a traditional catchment area defined as ≤ 50 km from the hospital. Since 1999, the five most common cancer sites were esophagus, stomach, prostate, colorectum, and cervix. Esophageal cancer accounted for 914 (34.6%) of the 2643 newly diagnosed cancers, and showed increasing trends within and outside the catchment area. Fifty-eight (6.3%) patients were ≤ 30 years old and 9 (1%) were ≤ 20 years old; the youngest patient was 14 at diagnosis. Young cases (≤30) were more common among patients of Kalenjin ethnicity (9.2%) than among other ethnicities (1.7%) (odds ratio (95%CI) 5.7 (2.1–15.1)). This area of western Kenya is a high-risk region for esophageal cancer, and appears unique in its large proportion of young patients. Our findings support the need for further study of both environmental and genetic risk factors for esophageal cancer in this area.
PMCID: PMC3505035  PMID: 19473205
Esophageal cancer; Kenya; age of onset; ethnicity
2.  Effect of the interaction between the amount and duration of alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking on the risk of esophageal cancer: A case-control study 
The effects of alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking on the prevalence of esophageal cancer vary considerably by country, race and lifestyle. Few data exist on the effect of the interaction between the amount and duration of alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking on the incidence of esophageal cancer. In this case-control study, the cases included patients with histologically confirmed esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) younger than 60 years of age and recruited between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2006. The controls had no abnormality during a medical checkup. A total of 835 pairs were created by pairing each case to a gender- and age-matched control. Conditional logistic regression analysis was used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals. Univariate conditional logistic regression analyses revealed that the ORs according to both duration of alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking increased monotonically. Alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking may have a synergistic effect on the incidence of ESCC. Conditional logistic regression analysis using a forward stepwise selection procedure revealed that the incidence of ESCC was associated with the duration of tobacco smoking, the interaction between the amount and duration of alcohol consumption, and a family history of cancer. In particular, groups with a long duration of alcohol consumption and high alcohol intake had much higher ORs than those with short duration and low intake, which highlights the importance of the interaction between the amount and duration of alcohol intake. This study confirmed the significance of the interaction between alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking in esophageal cancer. This interaction between amount and duration is an accurate indicator for estimating the risk of esophageal cancer attributable to alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking. These findings suggest that decreasing the number of young and middle-aged drinkers and smokers will reduce the incidence of esophageal cancer.
PMCID: PMC3446748  PMID: 22993631
alcohol consumption; tobacco smoking; esophageal cancer; interaction between amount and duration
3.  Endoscopic and clinicopathological patterns of esophageal cancer in Tanzania: experiences from two tertiary health institutions 
Esophageal cancer is one of the most serious gastrointestinal cancer worldwide, owing to its rapid development and fatal prognoses in most cases. There is a paucity of published data regarding esophageal cancer in Tanzania and the study area in particular. This study was conducted to describe the endoscopic and clinicopathological patterns of esophageal cancer in this part of the world. The study provides baseline local data for future comparison.
This was a retrospective study of histologically confirmed cases of esophageal cancer seen at Bugando Medical Center and Muhimbili National Hospital between March 2008 and February 2013. Data were retrieved from medical record computer database and analyzed using SPSS computer software version 17.0.
A total of 328 esophageal cancer patients were enrolled in the study, representing 25.3% of all malignant gastrointestinal tract tumors. The male to female ratio was 2.2:1. The median age of patients at presentation was 47 years. The majority of patients (86.6%) were peasants coming from the rural areas. Smoking and alcohol consumption were documented in 74.7% and 61.6% of patients respectively. Family history of esophageal cancer was reported in 4.6% of cases. The majority of patients (81.7%) presented late with advanced stage of cancer. Progressive dysphagia and weight loss were the most common presenting symptoms occurring in all patients. The middle third esophagus (58.5%) was the most frequent anatomical site for esophageal cancer followed by lower third (27.4%) and upper third esophagus (10.4%). Squamous cell carcinoma (96.0%) was the most common histopathological type. Adenocarcinoma occurred in 13 (4.0%) patients. TNM staging was documented in only 104 (31.7%) patients. Of these, 102(98.1%) patients were diagnosed with advanced esophageal cancer (Stages III and IV). According to tumor grading, most of tumors were moderately differentiated accounting for 56.1% of cases. Distant metastasis was documented in 43.3% of patients.
Esophageal cancer is not uncommon in this region and shows a trend towards a relative young age at presentation and the majority of patients present late with advanced stage. There is a need for screening of high-risk populations and detecting esophageal cancer at an early stage in order to improve chances for successful treatment and survival.
PMCID: PMC3850722  PMID: 24094270
Esophageal cancer; Endoscopy; Clinicopathological patterns; Tanzania
4.  TP53 mutations, human papilloma virus DNA and inflammation markers in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma from the Rift Valley, a high-incidence area in Kenya 
BMC Research Notes  2011;4:469.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Esophagus is one of the most common malignancies in both men and women in eastern and south-eastern Africa. In Kenya, clinical observations suggest that this cancer is frequent in the Rift Valley area. However, so far, there has been no report on the molecular characteristics of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in this area.
We have analyzed TP53 mutations, the presence of human papilloma virus (HPV) DNA and expression of inflammation markers Cyclooxygenase 2 (Cox-2) and Nitrotyrosine (NTyR) in 28 cases (13 males and 15 females) of archived ESCC tissues collected at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya. Eleven mutations were detected in TP53 exons 5 to 8 (39%). All ESCC samples were negative for HPV 16, 18, 26, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 53, 56, 58, 59, 66, 68, 70, 73 and 82. Immunohistochemical analysis of Cox-2 and NTyR showed a low proportion of positive cases (17.4% and 39.1%, respectively). No association between the above markers and suspected risk factors (alcohol or tobacco use, hot tea drinking, use of charcoal for cooking) was found.
Our findings suggest that mechanisms of esophageal carcinogenesis in eastern Africa might be different from other parts of the world. Low prevalence of TP53 mutation compared with other intermediate or high incidence areas of the world highlights this hypothesis. Our data did not support a possible ole of HPV in this series of cases. Further studies are needed to assess and compare the molecular patterns of ESCC from Kenya with those of high-incidence areas such as China or Central Asia.
PMCID: PMC3216406  PMID: 22040862
5.  Heavy alcohol intake is a risk factor for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma among middle-aged men: A case-control and simulation study 
Molecular and Clinical Oncology  2013;1(5):811-816.
Despite the advances in surgical techniques and treatments, the prognosis of esophageal cancer remains poor, since the disease is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage. Therefore, prevention plays an important role in reducing mortality. Smoking and alcohol intake are modifiable habits and are important risk factors for esophageal cancer. However, the number of large-scale studies that have investigated the association of the amount and duration of smoking and alcohol intake with esophageal cancer risk, while accounting for the effects of gender and cancer subtypes (squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma), is limited. Therefore, in this hospital-based matched case-control study we investigated this association while accounting for gender and subtype differences. Chinese male patients <60 years of age with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) from the Fourth Hospital of Hebei Medical University in China and healthy individuals were enrolled between January, 2002 and December, 2006. Each ESCC patient was age-matched to a control subject and a total of 535 pairs were enrolled in this study. The combined variables of amount and duration were created to elucidate their effect and association with ESCC. Multiple conditional logistic regression analysis was used to estimate the odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) in this model, which included a family history of esophageal cancer, a combined smoking variable and a combined alcohol variable. A simulation study was subsequently performed to confirm the reliability of the results. The results of the present study demonstrated that a family history of esophageal cancer and the combined alcohol variable were significantly associated with ESCC risk. Heavy alcohol consumption and intake for ≤20 years increased the risk compared with no intake (OR=1.91, 95% CI: 1.25–2.92). Heavy alcohol consumption and intake for >20 years exhibited an even higher risk (OR=7.25, 95% CI: 3.12–16.83). These results were similar to those of the simulation. Heavy alcohol intake, even for a short duration, is a critical risk factor and may lead to the development of ESCC in Chinese males.
PMCID: PMC3915638  PMID: 24649251
alcohol intake; conditional logistic regression analysis; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; matched case-control study; middle-aged Chinese men; simulation
6.  Elevated Maspin Expression Is Associated with Better Overall Survival in Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma (ESCC) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63581.
Tumor suppressor maspin is a differentially regulated gene in the progression of many types of cancer. While the biological function of maspin in blocking tumor invasion and metastasis is consistent with the loss of maspin expression at the late stage of tumor progression, the differential expression and the biological significance of maspin in early stage of tumor progression appear to be complex and remain to be elucidated. In the current study, we examined the expression of maspin in 84 esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) cases (stages I–III) and 55 non-tumor adjacent esophageal tissue specimens by immunohistochemical (IHC) staining. The correlation of maspin with clinicopathological parameters was analyzed. Compared to normal esophageal squamous tissue where 80% (47/55) of the cases expressed maspin at a low to moderate level, all ESCC specimens (100% (84/84)) were positive for maspin expression at a moderate to high level. ESCC with low or moderate maspin expression had significantly shorter postoperative survival rates compared to those that had high maspin expression (p<0.001). Since the correlation of maspin with ESCC histology and the correlation of maspin with ESCC prognosis seem to be at odds, we further investigated the biological function of maspin in ESCC using the established ESCC cell lines. The expression of maspin in five human esophageal squamous cancer cell lines (T12, E450, KYSE150, EC109, and KYSE510) was examined by the Western blot. ESCC cell line KYSE510 that did not express maspin and was stably transfected by maspin cDNA or an empty vector. The resulting transfected cells were characterized in vitro. Maspin expression significantly inhibited cell proliferation, motility and matrigel invasion. Taken together, our data suggest that the transient up-regulation of maspin in the early development of ESCC may be a defense mechanism against further transition towards more malignant phenotypes, ultimately slowing down ESCC tumor progression.
PMCID: PMC3661574  PMID: 23717449
7.  A study on p53 gene alterations in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and their correlation to common dietary risk factors among population of the Kashmir valley 
AIM: To systematically examine the extent of correlation of risk factors, such as age, consumed dietary habit and familial predisposition with somatic Tp53 molecular lesion causal to elevate carcinogenesis severity of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) among the Kashmiri population of Northern India.
METHODS: All cases (n = 51) and controls (n = 150) were permanent residents of the Kashmir valley. Genetic alterations were determined in exons 5-8 of Tp53 tumor suppressor gene among 45 ESCC cases histologically confirmed by PCR-SSCP analysis. Data for individual cancer cases (n = 45) and inpatient controls (n = 150) with non-cancer disease included information on family history of cancer, thirty prevailing common dietary risk factors along with patient’s age group. Correlation of genetic lesion in Tp53 exons to animistic data from these parameters was generated by Chi-square test to all 45 histologically confirmed ESCC cases along with healthy controls.
RESULTS: Thirty-five of 45 (77.8%) histologically characterized tumor samples had analogous somatic mutation as opposed to 1 of 45 normal sample obtained from adjacent region from the same patient showed germline mutation. The SSCP analysis demonstrated that most common p53 gene alterations were found in exon 6 (77.7%), that did not correlate with the age of the individual and clinicopathological parameters but showed significant concordance (P < 0.05) with familial history of cancer (CD = 58), suggesting germline predisposition at an unknown locus, and dietary habit of consuming locally grown Brassica vegetable “Hakh” (CD = 19.5), red chillies (CD = 20.2), hot salty soda tea (CD = 2.37) and local baked bread (CD = 1.1).
CONCLUSION: Our study suggests that somatic chromosomal mutations, especially in exon 6 of Tp53 gene, among esophageal cancer patients of an ethnically homogenous population of Kashmir valley are closely related to continued exposure to various common dietary risk factors, especially hot salty tea, meat, baked bread and “Hakh”, that are rich in nitrosoamines and familial cancer history.
PMCID: PMC4087716  PMID: 16810754
Case-controls; Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Dietary carcinogens; p53 alterations
8.  Extremely High Tp53 Mutation Load in Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Golestan Province, Iran 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e29488.
Golestan Province in northeastern Iran has one of the highest incidences of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in the world with rates over 50 per 100,000 person-years in both sexes. We have analyzed TP53 mutation patterns in tumors from this high-risk geographic area in search of clues to the mutagenic processes involved in causing ESCC.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Biopsies of 119 confirmed ESCC tumor tissue from subjects enrolled in a case-control study conducted in Golestan Province were analyzed by direct sequencing of TP53 exons 2 through 11. Immunohistochemical staining for p53 was carried out using two monoclonal antibodies, DO7 and 1801. A total of 120 TP53 mutations were detected in 107/119 cases (89.9%), including 11 patients with double or triple mutations. The mutation pattern was heterogeneous with infrequent mutations at common TP53 “hotspots” but frequent transversions potentially attributable to environmental carcinogens forming bulky DNA adducts, including 40% at bases known as site of mutagenesis by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Mutations showed different patterns according to the reported temperature of tea consumption, but no variation was observed in relation to ethnicity, tobacco or opium use, and alcoholic beverage consumption or urban versus rural residence.
ESCC tumors in people from Golestan Province show the highest rate of TP53 mutations ever reported in any cancer anywhere. The heterogeneous mutation pattern is highly suggestive of a causative role for multiple environmental carcinogens, including PAHs. The temperature and composition of tea may also influence mutagenesis.
PMCID: PMC3246475  PMID: 22216294
9.  Descriptive epidemiology of esophageal carcinoma in the Ohio Cancer Registry 
Etiologic factors and demographics in esophageal cancer have not been fully characterized at a population-level. This study aimed to compare incidence rates of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) and squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) by race. Other aims were to evaluate the impact of race, age, gender, and histology on presenting stage; and to describe tobacco use history in EAC as documented in a cancer registry.
Invasive esophageal cancer cases reported to Ohio’s cancer registry 1998–2002 were identified. Incident staged EAC and ESCC cases were analyzed for factors associated with metastatic disease.
930 ESCC and 1,801 EAC cases were identified. African-Americans had higher ESCC incidence than whites (5.0 versus 1.3 cases/100,000/year). However, whites had higher EAC incidence (3.3 versus 0.8 cases/100,000/year). 77% of EAC cases with available tobacco history were reported in tobacco users. In univariate analyses, race, age, gender, and histology differed significantly by stage. 31% of patients ≥ aged 65 presented with distant stage, versus 26% of those < 65 (p<0.001). 32% of African-Americans had distant stage, versus 34% of whites (p=0.048). In logistic regression modeling, male gender [OR 1.76, CI(1.15, 2.67)] and age < 75 [OR 1.95, CI(1.21, 3.15)], but not race, predicted distant stage ESCC. Distant stage EAC was associated with age < 56 [OR 1.82, CI(1.39, 2.38)] but not significantly associated with African-American race (p=0.062) for the sample size available.
Whites had higher EAC rates, and African-Americans had higher ESCC rates. African-Americans were not more likely than whites to present with metastatic ESCC.1
PMCID: PMC2483313  PMID: 18406068
esophagus; adenocarcinoma; squamous cell carcinoma; esophageal neoplasm; neoplasm staging; neoplasm metastasis; incidence; tobacco; smoking; race
10.  Anti-CDC25B autoantibody predicts poor prognosis in patients with advanced esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
The oncogene CDC25B phosphatase plays an important role in cancer cell growth. We have recently reported that patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) have significantly higher serum levels of CDC25B autoantibodies (CDC25B-Abs) than both healthy individuals and patients with other types of cancer; however, the potential diagnostic or prognostic significance of CDC25B-Abs is not clear. The aim of this study is to evaluate the clinical significance of serum CDC25B-Abs in patients with ESCC.
CDC25B autoantibodies were measured in sera from both 134 patients with primary ESCC and 134 healthy controls using a reverse capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in which anti-CDC25B antibodies bound CDC25B antigen purified from Eca-109 ESCC tumor cells. The clinicopathologic significance of CDC25B serum autoantibodies was compared to that of the tumor markers carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), squamous cell carcinoma antigen (SCC-Ag) and cytokeratin 19 fragment antigen 21-1(CYFRA21-1).
Higher levels of CDC25B autoantibodies were present in sera from patients with ESCC (A450 = 0.917, SD = 0.473) than in sera from healthy control subjects (A450 = 0.378, SD = 0.262, P < 0.001). The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve for CDC25B-Abs was 0.870 (95% CI: 0.835-0.920). The sensitivity and specificity of CDC25B-Abs for detection of ESCC were 56.7% and 91.0%, respectively, when CDC25-Abs-positive samples were defined as those with an A450 greater than the cut-off value of 0.725. Relatively few patients tested positive for the tumor markers CEA, SCC-Ag and CYFRA21-1 (13.4%, 17.2%, and 32.1%, respectively). A significantly higher number of patients with ESCC tested positive for a combination of CEA, SCC, CYFRA21-1 and CDC25B-Abs (64.2%) than for a combination of CEA, SCC-Ag and CYFRA21-1 (41.0%, P < 0.001). The concentration of CDC25B autoantibodies in serum was significantly correlated with tumor stage (P < 0.001). Although examination of the total patient pool showed no obvious relationship between CDC25B autoantibodies and overall survival, in the subgroup of patients with stage III-IV tumors, the cumulative five-year survival rate of CDC25B-seropositive patients was 6.7%, while that of CDC25B-seronegative patients was 43.4% (P = 0.001, log-rank). In the N1 subgroup, the cumulative five-year survival rate of CDC25B-seropositive patients was 13.6%, while that of CDC25B-seronegative patients was 54.5% (P = 0.040, log-rank).
Detection of serum CDC25B-Abs is superior to detection of the tumor markers CEA, SCC-Ag and CYFRA21-1 for diagnosis of ESCC, and CDC25B-Abs are a potential prognostic serological marker for advanced ESCC.
PMCID: PMC2941748  PMID: 20813067
11.  Palmoplantar keratoderma is associated with esophagus squamous cell cancer in Van region of Turkey: a case control study 
BMC Cancer  2005;5:90.
Esophagus squamous cell cancer (ESCC) is the most common cancer in women with 20.2% and second in men with 10.7% relative frequency among all cancer cases diagnosed in Van Region in the east of Turkey. Ninety percent of all esophageal cancer cases are ESCC and 20–30% of them have family history of esophageal cancer. The most clear defined hereditary predisposition associated with ESCC is palmoplantar keratoderma (PPK). To examine the relationship between ESCC and PPK, we have carried out this case control study.
The case group consisted of 48 subjects who had new diagnosis of ESCC and did not receive any chemo or radiotherapy. The control group consisted of 96 healthy individuals who were visitors of their relatives in the hospital. Two control persons who matched for age, gender, living place (urban /rural) and region were selected for each case. All subjects were evaluated for PPK by dermatologist. Evaluation was graded as none, mild, evident and severe. None and mild subjects were classified as negative for PPK; and others as positive. Relationship between ESCC and PPK was evaluated with odds ratios and confidence intervals for cases with or without family history of ESCC.
The PPK frequencies were 92.3% in ESCC cases with family history, 62.5% in ESCC cases without family history, 70.8% in all ESCC cases, and 28.1% in the control group. Odds ratios for cases with or without family history of esophageal cancer, and for the whole case group were found as 30.7 (95%CI = 3.8–247.4), 4.3 (95%CI = 1.9–9.8) and 6.2 (95%CI = 2.9–13.3) respectively.
Presence of PPK lesions represents genetic susceptibility for ESCC. This susceptibility for ESCC is the highest among those who have PPK lesions and a positive family history of esophageal cancer. Furthermore, a PPK sufferer has an increased risk of developing ESCC even if there is no family history of esophageal cancer.
PMCID: PMC1187881  PMID: 16048655
12.  Squamous cell carcinoma in Barrett’s esophagus: field effect versus metastasis 
Barrett’s esophagus (BE) is a premalignant condition with an increased risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). Risk factors for EAC overlap with those for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), but ESCC is surprisingly rare in BE. We report two cases of ESCC directly surrounded by BE. Both patients had a previous medical history of cancers, i.e., head and neck squamous cell carcinomas, and were using alcohol and smoking tobacco. Using immunohistochemistry for p63, CK5, CK7, and CDX2, it was confirmed that these carcinomas were pure squamous cell carcinomas, and not EACs or esophageal adenosquamous carcinomas arising from BE. Using TP53 mutation and loss of heterozygosity analysis, we established that the ESCCs in BE were not metastases of the previously diagnosed head and neck squamous cell carcinomas but de novo primary ESCCs. This study shows the strength of molecular analysis as an adjunct to the histopathologic diagnosis for distinguishing between metastases of prior cancers and primary cancers. Furthermore, these cases imply that presence of BE is not protective with regards to developing ESCC in the lower one third of the esophagus. We suggest that their ESCCs arose from islets of squamous epithelium in BE.
PMCID: PMC3568520  PMID: 22221671
adenocarcinoma; Barrett’s esophagus; squamous cell carcinoma
13.  Relationship between the expression of hTERT and EYA4 mRNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells with the progressive stages of carcinogenesis of the esophagus 
To establish a relationship between esophageal squamous cell diseases and the expression of human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) and Eyes absent 4 (EYA4) mRNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
Subjects were 50 patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), 50 with dysplasia (ESCD), 50 with basal cell hyperplasia (BCH) and 50 controls. All subjects were residents of Feicheng County, Shandong Province, China , diagnosed by histopathology. Expression of hTERT and EYA4 mRNA in peripheral blood was determined by semiquantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
The hTERT and EYA4 mRNA positive expression increased according to disease severity. At the cut-off value of ≥ 0.2, the positive expression rates of EYA4 were 14% for controls, 20.0% for BCH, 26% for ESCD and 52% for ESCC, respectively. At the cut-off value of ≥ 0.8, the positive expression rates of hTERT in the four groups were 24%, 30.0%, 52% and 80%, respectively. Using a positive value of 0.47 for EYA4, the testing sensitivities in the ESCD and ESCC groups were 4% and 16%, respectively, and the testing specificity increased to 100%. Using a positive value of 1.0 for hTERT, the testing sensitivities in the ESCD and ESCC groups were 48% and 60%, respectively, and the testing specificity increased to 72%. The testing sensitivities in the predicting ESCD and ESCC in the discriminant model including EYA4 and hTERT and the five traditional risk factors (sex, age, smoking, alcohol drinking, and family history of esophageal cancer) were 70% and 80%, and testing specificities were 76% and 88% respectively. However, the testing sensitivities and specificities in the predicting ESCD and ESCC in the model only including the above five traditional risk factors were lower than that in the former case.
EYA4 and hTERT mRNA expression increased with the severity of esophageal pathological changes and may be useful for identifying high-risk endoscopy candidates or for monitoring changes in premalignant esophageal lesions.
PMCID: PMC2789727  PMID: 19939248
14.  TERT-CLPTM1L Rs401681 C>T Polymorphism Was Associated with a Decreased Risk of Esophageal Cancer in a Chinese Population 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e100667.
Esophageal cancer was the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer and the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in China in 2009. Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) accounts for more than 90 percent of esophageal cancers. Genetic factors probably play an important role in the ESCC carcinogenesis.
We conducted a hospital based case-control study to evaluate functional hTERT rs2736098 G>A and TERT-CLPTM1L rs401681 C>T single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on the risk of ESCC. Six hundred and twenty-nine ESCC cases and 686 controls were recruited. Their genotypes were determined using the ligation detection reaction (LDR) method.
When the TERT-CLPTM1L rs401681 CC homozygote genotype was used as the reference group, the CT genotype was associated with a significantly decreased risk of ESCC (adjusted OR  = 0.74, 95% CI  = 0.58–0.94, p = 0.012); the CT/TT variants were associated with a 26% decreased risk of ESCC (adjusted OR  = 0.74, 95% CI  = 0.59–0.93, P = 0.009). The significantly decreased risk of ESCC associated with the TERT-CLPTM1L rs401681 C>T polymorphism was associated with male sex, young age (<63 years in our study) and alcohol consumption. No association between the hTERT rs2736098 G>A polymorphism and ESCC risk was observed.
TERT-CLPTM1L rs401681 CT and CT/TT genotypes were associated with decreased risk of ESCC, particularly among men, young patients and those reported to be drinkers. However, our results are preliminary conclusions. Larger studies with more rigorous study designs are required to confirm the current findings.
PMCID: PMC4089909  PMID: 25007268
15.  Polymorphic repeat in AIB1 does not alter breast cancer risk 
Breast Cancer Research : BCR  2000;2(5):378-385.
We assessed the association between a glutamine repeat polymorphism in AIB1 and breast cancer risk in a case-control study (464 cases, 624 controls) nested within the Nurses' Health Study cohort. We observed no association between AIB1 genotype and breast cancer incidence, or specific tumor characteristics. These findings suggest that AIB1 repeat genotype does not influence postmenopausal breast cancer risk among Caucasian women in the general population.
A causal association between endogenous and exogenous estrogens and breast cancer has been established. Steroid hormones regulate the expression of proteins that are involved in breast cell proliferation and development after binding to their respective steroid hormone receptors. Coactivator and corepressor proteins have recently been identified that interact with steroid hormone receptors and modulate transcriptional activation [1]. AIB1 (amplified in breast 1) is a member of the steroid receptor coactivator (SRC) family that interacts with estrogen receptor (ER)α in a ligand-dependent manner, and increases estrogen-dependent transcription [2]. Amplification and overexpression of AIB1 has been observed in breast and ovarian cancer cell lines and in breast tumors [2,3]. A polymorphic stretch of glutamine amino acids, with unknown biologic function, has recently been described in the carboxyl-terminal region of AIB1 [4]. Among women with germline BRCA1 mutations, significant positive associations were observed between AIB1 alleles with 26 or fewer glutamine repeats and breast cancer risk [5]
To establish whether AIB1 repeat alleles are associated with breast cancer risk and specific tumor characteristics among Caucasian women.
Patients and methods:
We evaluated associations prospectively between AIB1 alleles and breast cancer risk in the Nurses' Health Study using a nested case-control design. The Nurses' Health Study was initiated in 1976, when 121 700 US-registered nurses between the ages of 30 and 55 years returned an initial questionnaire reporting medical histories and baseline health-related exposures. Between 1989 and 1990 blood samples were collected from 32 826 women. Eligible cases in this study consisted of women with pathologically confirmed incident breast cancer from the subcohort who gave a blood specimen. Cases with a diagnosis anytime after blood collection up to June 1, 1994, with no previously diagnosed cancer except for nonmelanoma skin cancer were included. Controls were randomly selected participants who gave a blood sample and were free of diagnosed cancer (except nonmelanoma skin cancer) up to and including the interval in which the cases were diagnosed, and were matched to cases on year of birth, menopausal status, postmenopausal hormone use, and time of day, month and fasting status at blood sampling. The nested case-control study consisted of 464 incident breast cancer cases and 624 matched controls. The protocol was approved by the Committee on Human Subjects, Brigham and Womens' Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts USA. Information regarding breast cancer risk factors was obtained from the 1976 baseline questionnaire, subsequent biennial questionnaires, and a questionnaire that was completed at the time of blood sampling. Histopathologic characteristics, such as stage, tumor size and ER and progesterone receptor (PR) status, were ascertained from medical records when available and used in case subgroup analyses.
AIB1 repeat alleles were determined by automated fluorescence-based fragment detection from polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-amplified DNA extracted from peripheral blood lymphocytes. Fluorescent 5' -labeled primers were utilized for PCR amplification, and glutamine repeat number discrimination was performed using the ABI Prism 377 DNA Sequencer (Perkin-Elmer, Foster City, CA, USA). Genotyping was performed by laboratory personnel who were blinded to case-control status, and blinded quality control samples were inserted to validate genotyping identification procedures (n = 110); concordance for the blinded samples was 100%. Methods regarding plasma hormone assays have previously been reported [6]. Conditional and unconditional logistic regression models, including terms for the matching variables and other potential confounders, were used to assess the association of AIB1 alleles and breast cancer characterized by histologic subtype, stage of disease, and ER and PR status. We also evaluated whether breast cancer risk associated with AIB1 genotype differed within strata of established breast cancer risk factors, and whether repeat length in AIB1 indirectly influenced plasma hormone levels.
The case-control comparisons of established breast cancer risk factors among these women have previously been reported [7], and are generally consistent with expectation. The mean age of the women was 58.3 (standard deviation [SD] 7.1) years, ranging from 43 to 69 years at blood sampling. There were 188 premenopausal and 810 postmenopausal women, with mean ages of 48.1 (SD 2.8) years and 61.4 (SD 5.0) years, respectively, at blood sampling. Women in this study were primarily white; Asians, African-Americans and Hispanics comprised less than 1% of cases or controls.
The distribution of AIB1 glutamine repeat alleles and AIB1 genotypes for cases and controls are presented in Table 1. Women with AIB1 alleles of 26 glutamine repeats or fewer were not at increased risk for breast cancer (odds ratio [OR] 1.01, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.75-1.36; Table 2). Results were also similar by menopausal status and in analyses additionally adjusting for established breast cancer risk factors. Among premenopausal women, the OR for women with at least one allele with 26 glutamine repeats or fewer was 0.82 (95% Cl 0.37-1.81), and among postmenopausal women the OR was 1.09 (95% Cl 0.78-1.52; Table 2). We did not observe evidence of a positive association between shorter repeat length and advanced breast cancer, defined as women with breast cancer having one or more involved nodes (OR 1.07, 95% Cl 0.64-1.78), or with cancers with a hormone-dependent phenotype (ER-positive: OR 1.16, 95% Cl 0.81-1.65; Table 3). No associations were observed among women who had one or more alleles with 26 glutamine repeats or fewer, with or without a family history of breast cancer (family history: OR 1.09; 95% Cl 0.46-2.58; no family history: OR 0.94; 95% Cl 0.68-1.31; test for interaction P = 0.65). We also did not observe associations with breast cancer risk to be modified by other established breast cancer risk factors. Among postmenopausal controls not using postmenopausal hormones, geometric least-squared mean plasma levels of estrone sulfate and estrone were similar among carriers and noncarriers of AIB1 alleles with 26 glutamine repeats or fewer (both differences: ≤ +3.5%; P >0.50). Mean levels of estradiol were slightly, but nonsignificantly elevated among carriers of alleles with 26 glutamine repeats or fewer (+11.6%; P = 0.08).
In this population-based nested case-control study, women with at most 26 repeating glutamine codons (CAG/CAA) within the carboxyl terminus of AIB1 were not at increased risk for breast cancer. We did not observe shorter repeat alleles to be positively associated with breast cancer grouped by histologic subtype, stage of disease, or by ER and PR status. These data suggest that AIB1 repeat length is not a strong independent risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer, and does not modify the clinical presentation of the tumor among Caucasian women in the general population.
PMCID: PMC13920  PMID: 11056690
AIB1 polymorphism; breast cancer; genetic susceptibility; molecular epidemiology
16.  Over-Expression of CDC25B and LAMC2 mRNA and Protein in Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinomas and Pre-Malignant Lesions in Subjects from a High-Risk Population in China 
Molecular events associated with the initiation and progression of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) remain poorly understood, but likely hold the key to effective early detection approaches for this almost invariably fatal cancer. CDC25B and LAMC2 are two promising early detection candidates emerging from new molecular studies of ESCC. To further elucidate the role of these two genes in esophageal carcinogenesis, we performed a series of studies to: (i) confirm RNA over-expression; (ii) establish the prevalence of protein over-expression; (iii) relate protein over-expression to survival; and (iv) explore their potential as early detection biomarkers. Results of these studies indicated that CDC25B mRNA was over-expressed (≥2-fold over-expression in tumor compared to normal) in 64% of the 73 ESCC cases evaluated, while LAMC2 mRNA was over-expressed in 89% of cases. CDC25B protein expression was categorized as positive in 59% (144/243) of ESCC cases on a tumor tissue microarray, and non-negative LAMC2 patterns of protein expression were observed in 82% (225/275) of cases. Multivariate-adjusted proportional hazard regression models showed no association between CDC25B protein expression score and risk of death (Hazard Ratio [HR] for each unit increase in expression score = 1.00, P=0.90), however, several of the LAMC2 protein expression patterns strongly predicted survival. Using the cytoplasmic pattern as the reference (the pattern with the lowest mortality), cases with a diffuse pattern had a 254% increased risk of death (HR=3.52, P=0.007), cases with no LAMC2 expression had a 169% increased risk of death (HR=2.69, P=0.009), and cases with a peripheral pattern had a 130% greater risk of death (HR=2.30, P=0.02). CDC25B protein expression scores in subjects with esophageal biopsies diagnosed as normal (n=35), dysplastic (n=23), or ESCC (n=32) increased significantly with morphologic progression. For LAMC2, all normal and dysplastic patients had a continuous pattern of protein expression, while all ESCCs showed alternative, non-continuous patterns. This series of studies showed that both CDC25B and LAMC2 over-express RNA and protein in a significant majority of ESCC cases. The strong relation of LAMC2 pattern of protein expression to survival suggests a role in prognosis, while CDC25B’s association with morphologic progression indicates a potential role as an early detection marker.
PMCID: PMC2729558  PMID: 18559558
esophageal cancer; quantitative RT-PCR; tissue microarray; survival; early detection; CDC25B; LAMC2
17.  Breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP) and excision repair cross complement-1 (ERCC1) expression in esophageal cancers and response to cisplatin and irinotecan based chemotherapy 
Esophageal cancer patients face a dismal outcome despite tri-modality management and median survival remains 15-18 months. Breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP) is an ATP-dependent efflux protein associated with chemotherapy resistance. The role of BCRP expression in esophageal cancer and normal esophageal cells is not known. Excision repair cross complement-1 (ERCC1) overexpression has been correlated with poorer response to cisplatin based chemotherapy. We examined the expression of BCRP and ERCC1 in patients with esophageal cancer and correlated it with survival in patients receiving irinotecan and cisplatin based chemotherapy.
With IRB approval, 40 cases of esophageal cancer diagnosed from 2004-2008, were stained for BCRP and ERCC1 expression by immunohistochemistry and scored by a pathologist blinded to clinical data. Baseline demographics, therapy given and survival data were collected and correlated with BCRP and ERCC1 expression. Fisher’s exact test was used to determine association between BCRP and ERCC1 expression and demographics. Cox proportional hazards model was used for association of BCRP and ERCC1 with survival.
On immunohistochemistry, 30/40 cancers (75%) expressed BCRP. Interestingly, down-regulation of BCRP expression in tumor compared with normal cells was seen in 40% of patients. ERCC1 positivity was seen in 15/30 cases (50%). Median overall survival (OS) was 19 months with no difference in survival between BCRP positive and negative patients (P=0.13) or ERCC1 positive and negative patients (P=0.85). Estimated hazard ratio (HR) of death for BRCP positive patients was 2.29 (95% CI: 0.79-6.64) and for ERCC1 positive patients was 1.09 (95% CI: 0.46-2.56). There was no association of BCRP and ERCC1 expression with disease stage, age, gender or histology. For patients who received cisplatin and irinotecan as first line chemotherapy, there was no difference in survival based on BCRP or ERCC1 status.
BCRP expression is seen in a majority of esophageal cancers and normal esophageal mucosa. ERCC1 expression is seen in about half of the patients with esophageal cancer. Irinotecan based studies with esophageal and gastric cancer suggest response rates of 14-65%. Whether the 40% of tumors in our study found with down regulation of BCRP expression, constitute a majority of these responders needs to be prospectively validated in a larger data set. It should include markers such as ERCC1 predicting response to 5-fluorouracil and platinum based chemotherapy, to enable individualizing therapy for this cancer.
PMCID: PMC4110489  PMID: 25083297
Breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP); excision repair cross complement-1 (ERCC1); expression; esophageal cancer; chemotherapy response
18.  Prognostic relevance of Centromere protein H expression in esophageal carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:233.
Many kinetochore proteins have been shown to be associated with human cancers. The aim of the present study was to clarify the expression of Centromere protein H (CENP-H), one of the fundamental components of the human active kinetochore, in esophageal carcinoma and its correlation with clinicopathological features.
We examined the expression of CENP-H in immortalized esophageal epithelial cells as well as in esophageal carcinoma cells, and in 12 cases of esophageal carcinoma tissues and the paired normal esophageal tissues by RT-PCR and Western blot analysis. In addition, we analyzed CENP-H protein expression in 177 clinicopathologically characterized esophageal carcinoma cases by immunohistochemistry. Statistical analyses were applied to test for prognostic and diagnostic associations.
The level of CENP-H mRNA and protein were higher in the immortalized cells, cancer cell lines and most cancer tissues than in normal control tissues. Immunohistochemistry showed that CENP-H was expressed in 127 of 171 ESCC cases (74.3%) and in 3 of 6 esophageal adenocarcinoma cases (50%). Statistical analysis of ESCC cases showed that there was a significant difference of CENP-H expression in patients categorized according to gender (P = 0.013), stage (P = 0.023) and T classification (P = 0.019). Patients with lower CENP-H expression had longer overall survival time than those with higher CENP-H expression. Multivariate analysis suggested that CENP-H expression was an independent prognostic marker for esophageal carcinoma patients. A prognostic value of CENP-H was also found in the subgroup of T3~T4 and N0 tumor classification.
Our results suggest that CENP-H protein is a valuable marker of esophageal carcinoma progression. CENP-H might be used as a valuable prognostic marker for esophageal carcinoma patients.
PMCID: PMC2535782  PMID: 18700042
19.  No evidence of HPV DNA in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in a population of Southern Brazil 
AIM: To investigate the association between human papillomavirus (HPV) and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in southern Brazil.
METHODS: We studied 189 esophageal samples from 125 patients from three different groups: (1) 102 biopsies from 51 patients with ESCC, with one sample from the tumor and another from normal esophageal mucosa distant from the tumor; (2) 50 esophageal biopsies from 37 patients with a previous diagnosis of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC); and (3) 37 biopsies from esophageal mucosa with normal appearance from 37 dyspeptic patients, not exposed to smoking or alcohol consumption. Nested-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with the MY09/11 and GP5/6 L1 primers was used to detect HPV L1 in samples fixed in formalin and stored in paraffin blocks. All PCR reactions were performed with a positive control (cervicovaginal samples), with a negative control (Human Genomic DNA) and with a blank reaction containing all reagents except DNA. We took extreme care to prevent DNA contamination in sample collection, processing, and testing.
RESULTS: The histological biopsies confirmed the diagnosis of ESCC in 52 samples (51 from ESCC group and 1 from the HNSCC group) and classified as well differentiated (12/52, 23.1%), moderately differentiated (27/52, 51.9%) or poorly differentiated (7/52, 13.5%). One hundred twenty-eight esophageal biopsies were considered normal (51 from the ESCC group, 42 from the HNSCC group and 35 from dyspeptic patients). Nine had esophagitis (7 from the HNSCC and 2 from dyspeptic patients). Of a total of 189 samples, only 6 samples had insufficient material for PCR analysis: 1 from mucosa distant from the tumor in a patient with ESCC, 3 from patients with HNSCC and 2 from patients without cancer. In 183 samples (96.8%) GAPDH, G3PDH and/or β-globin were amplified, thus indicating the adequacy of the DNA in those samples. HPV DNA was negative in all the 183 samples tested: 52 with ESCC, 9 with esophagitis and 122 with normal esophageal mucosa.
CONCLUSION: There was no evidence of HPV infection in different ESCC from southern Brazil.
PMCID: PMC3801374  PMID: 24151387
Esophageal cancer; Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Human papillomavirus; Head and neck cancer; Polymerase chain reactions; Nested-polymerase chain reaction
20.  DEAR1 Is a Dominant Regulator of Acinar Morphogenesis and an Independent Predictor of Local Recurrence-Free Survival in Early-Onset Breast Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(5):e1000068.
Ann Killary and colleagues describe a new gene that is genetically altered in breast tumors, and that may provide a new breast cancer prognostic marker.
Breast cancer in young women tends to have a natural history of aggressive disease for which rates of recurrence are higher than in breast cancers detected later in life. Little is known about the genetic pathways that underlie early-onset breast cancer. Here we report the discovery of DEAR1 (ductal epithelium–associated RING Chromosome 1), a novel gene encoding a member of the TRIM (tripartite motif) subfamily of RING finger proteins, and provide evidence for its role as a dominant regulator of acinar morphogenesis in the mammary gland and as an independent predictor of local recurrence-free survival in early-onset breast cancer.
Methods and Findings
Suppression subtractive hybridization identified DEAR1 as a novel gene mapping to a region of high-frequency loss of heterozygosity (LOH) in a number of histologically diverse human cancers within Chromosome 1p35.1. In the breast epithelium, DEAR1 expression is limited to the ductal and glandular epithelium and is down-regulated in transition to ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), an early histologic stage in breast tumorigenesis. DEAR1 missense mutations and homozygous deletion (HD) were discovered in breast cancer cell lines and tumor samples. Introduction of the DEAR1 wild type and not the missense mutant alleles to complement a mutation in a breast cancer cell line, derived from a 36-year-old female with invasive breast cancer, initiated acinar morphogenesis in three-dimensional (3D) basement membrane culture and restored tissue architecture reminiscent of normal acinar structures in the mammary gland in vivo. Stable knockdown of DEAR1 in immortalized human mammary epithelial cells (HMECs) recapitulated the growth in 3D culture of breast cancer cell lines containing mutated DEAR1, in that shDEAR1 clones demonstrated disruption of tissue architecture, loss of apical basal polarity, diffuse apoptosis, and failure of lumen formation. Furthermore, immunohistochemical staining of a tissue microarray from a cohort of 123 young female breast cancer patients with a 20-year follow-up indicated that in early-onset breast cancer, DEAR1 expression serves as an independent predictor of local recurrence-free survival and correlates significantly with strong family history of breast cancer and the triple-negative phenotype (ER−, PR−, HER-2−) of breast cancers with poor prognosis.
Our data provide compelling evidence for the genetic alteration and loss of expression of DEAR1 in breast cancer, for the functional role of DEAR1 in the dominant regulation of acinar morphogenesis in 3D culture, and for the potential utility of an immunohistochemical assay for DEAR1 expression as an independent prognostic marker for stratification of early-onset disease.
Editors' Summary
Each year, more than one million women discover that they have breast cancer. This type of cancer begins when cells in the breast that line the milk-producing glands or the tubes that take the milk to the nipples (glandular and ductal epithelial cells, respectively) acquire genetic changes that allow them to grow uncontrollably and to move around the body (metastasize). The uncontrolled division leads to the formation of a lump that can be detected by mammography (a breast X-ray) or by manual breast examination. Breast cancer is treated by surgical removal of the lump or, if the cancer has started to spread, by removal of the whole breast (mastectomy). Surgery is usually followed by radiotherapy or chemotherapy. These “adjuvant” therapies are designed to kill any remaining cancer cells but can make patients very ill. Generally speaking, the outlook for women with breast cancer is good. In the US, for example, nearly 90% of affected women are still alive five years after their diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although breast cancer is usually diagnosed in women in their 50s or 60s, some women develop breast cancer much earlier. In these women, the disease is often very aggressive. Compared to older women, young women with breast cancer have a lower overall survival rate and their cancer is more likely to recur locally or to metastasize. It would be useful to be able to recognize those younger women at the greatest risk of cancer recurrence so that they could be offered intensive surveillance and adjuvant therapy; those women at a lower risk could have gentler treatments. To achieve this type of “stratification,” the genetic changes that underlie breast cancer in young women need to be identified. In this study, the researchers discover a gene that is genetically altered (by mutations or deletion) in early-onset breast cancer and then investigate whether its expression can predict outcomes in women with this disease.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used “suppression subtractive hybridization” to identify a new gene in a region of human Chromosome 1 where loss of heterozygosity (LOH; a genetic alteration associated with cancer development) frequently occurs. They called the gene DEAR1 (ductal epithelium-associated RING Chromosome 1) to indicate that it is expressed in ductal and glandular epithelial cells and encodes a “RING finger” protein (specifically, a subtype called a TRIM protein; RING finger proteins such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 have been implicated in early cancer development and in a large fraction of inherited breast cancers). DEAR1 expression was reduced or lost in several ductal carcinomas in situ (a local abnormality that can develop into breast cancer) and advanced breast cancers, the researchers report. Furthermore, many breast tumors carried DEAR1 missense mutations (genetic changes that interfere with the normal function of the DEAR1 protein) or had lost both copies of DEAR1 (the human genome contains two copies of most genes). To determine the function of DEAR1, the researchers replaced a normal copy of DEAR1 into a breast cancer cell that had a mutation in DEAR1. They then examined the growth of these genetically manipulated cells in special three-dimensional cultures. The breast cancer cells without DEAR1 grew rapidly without an organized structure while the breast cancer cells containing the introduced copy of DEAR1 formed structures that resembled normal breast acini (sac-like structures that secrete milk). In normal human mammary epithelial cells, the researchers silenced DEAR1 expression and also showed that without DEAR1, the normal mammary cells lost their ability to form proper acini. Finally, the researchers report that DEAR1 expression (detected “immunohistochemically”) was frequently lost in women who had had early-onset breast cancer and that the loss of DEAR1 expression correlated with reduced local recurrence-free survival, a strong family history of breast cancer and with a breast cancer subtype that has a poor outcome.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that genetic alteration and loss of expression of DEAR1 are common in breast cancer. Although laboratory experiments may not necessarily reflect what happens in people, the results from the three-dimensional culture of breast epithelial cells suggest that DEAR1 may regulate the normal acinar structure of the breast. Consequently, loss of DEAR1 expression could be an early event in breast cancer development. Most importantly, the correlation between DEAR1 expression and both local recurrence in early-onset breast cancer and a breast cancer subtype with a poor outcome suggests that it might be possible to use DEAR1 expression to identify women with early-onset breast cancer who have an increased risk of local recurrence so that they get the most appropriate treatment for their cancer.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Senthil Muthuswamy
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and health professionals on all aspects of breast cancer, including information on genetic alterations in breast cancer (in English and Spanish)
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia provides information for patients about breast cancer; MedlinePlus also provides links to many other breast cancer resources (in English and Spanish)
The UK charities Cancerbackup (now merged with MacMillan Cancer Support) and Cancer Research UK also provide detailed information about breast cancer
PMCID: PMC2673042  PMID: 19536326
21.  Detection of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma by Cathepsin B Activity in Nude Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92351.
Background and Objective
Despite great progress in treatment, the prognosis for patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) remains poor, highlighting the importance of early detection. Although upper endoscopy can be used for the screening of esophagus, it has limited sensitivity for early stage disease. Thus, development of new diagnosis approach to improve diagnostic capabilities for early detection of ESCC is an important need. The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility of using cathepsin B (CB) as a novel imaging target for the detection of human ESCC by near-infrared optical imaging in nude mice.
Initially, we examined specimens from normal human esophageal tissue, intraepithelial neoplasia lesions, tumor in situ, ESCC and two cell lines including one human ESCC cell line (Eca-109) and one normal human esophageal epithelial cell line (HET-1A) for CB expression by immunohistochemistry and western blot, respectively. Next, the ability of a novel CB activatable near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) probe detecting CB activity presented in Eca-109 cells was confirmed by immunocytochemistry. We also performed in vivo imaging of tumor bearing mice injected with the CB probe and ex vivo imaging of resected tumor xenografts and visceral organs using a living imaging system. Finally, the sources of fluorescence signals in tumor tissue and CB expression in visceral organs were identified by histology.
CB was absent in normal human esophageal mucosa, but it was overexpressed in ESCC and its precursor lesions. The novel probe for CB activity specifically detected ESCC xenografts in vivo and in vitro.
CB was highly upregulated in human ESCC and its precursor lesions. The elevated CB expression in ESCC allowed in vivo and in vitro detection of ESCC xenografts in nude mice. Our results support the usefulness of CB activity as a potential imaging target for the detection of human ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3950293  PMID: 24618814
22.  Elevated p53 expression levels correlate with tumor progression and poor prognosis in patients exhibiting esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Oncology Letters  2014;8(4):1441-1446.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is the most common histological subtype of esophageal cancer and one of the most aggressive types of malignancy, with a high rate of mortality. Early diagnosis and treatment may improve the prognosis of ESCC and, thus, survival rates. As a significant tumor suppressor, p53 is closely associated with apoptosis and the differentiation of cancer cells. The present study evaluated the expression levels of the p53 protein and the clinical significance in patients presenting with ESCC. The p53 protein expression level of 64 paired ESCC and tumor-adjacent normal tissues was evaluated using western blot analysis. In addition, immunohistochemistry (IHC) was performed to detect the p53 expression level in specimens from 118 paraffin-embedded cancerous tissues. The correlation of the p53 expression level with the clinicopathological parameters and prognosis of the ESCC patients was also analyzed. The p53 protein was identified to be highly expressed in the ESCC tissue, with western blot analysis demonstrating that the expression level of p53 in the cancerous tissue was 1.89 times that of the tumor-adjacent normal tissue (P<0.001); furthermore, IHC indicated that there was a marked positive expression of p53 in the ESCC tissue (49.15%). The expression level of p53 protein was identified to be significantly correlated with the tumor grade (P<0.001), N stage (P=0.010). Additionally, the higher level of p53 expression was found to be associated with a poor survival rate in the ESCC patients (P=0.0404). The univariate analysis showed that the survival time of patients was significantly correlated with the T stage (RR=3.886, P<0.001), N stage (lymph node metastasis; RR=3.620, P<0.001) and TNM stage (RR=3.576, P<0.001). Furthermore, the multivariate analysis revealed that the T stage (RR=3.988, P<0.001) and N stage (RR=4.240, P=0.004) significantly influenced the overall survival of the ESCC patients.
PMCID: PMC4156227  PMID: 25202347
esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; p53; immunohistochemistry; western blot; prognosis
23.  Etiological study of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in an endemic region: a population-based case control study in Huaian, China 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:287.
Continuous exposure to various environmental carcinogens and genetic polymorphisms of xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes (XME) are associated with many types of human cancers, including esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). Huaian, China, is one of the endemic regions of ESCC, but fewer studies have been done in characterizing the risk factors of ESCC in this area. The aims of this study is to evaluate the etiological roles of demographic parameters, environmental and food-borne carcinogens exposure, and XME polymorphisms in formation of ESCC, and to investigate possible gene-gene and gene-environment interactions associated with ESCC in Huaian, China.
A population based case-control study was conducted in 107 ESCC newly diagnosed cases and 107 residency- age-, and sex-matched controls in 5 townships of Huaian. In addition to regular epidemiological and food frequency questionnaire analyses, genetic polymorphisms of phase I enzymes CYP1A1, CYP1B1, CYP2A6, and CYP2E1, and phase II enzymes GSTM1, GSTT1, GSTP1, and microsomal epoxide hydrolase (EPHX) were assessed from genomic DNA using PCR based techniques.
Consuming acrid food, fatty meat, moldy food, salted and pickled vegetables, eating fast, introverted personality, passive smoking, a family history of cancer, esophageal lesion, and infection with Helicobacter pylori were significant risk factors for ESCC (P < 0.05). Regular clean up of food storage utensils, green tea consumption, and alcohol abstinence were protective factors for ESCC (P < 0.01). The frequency of the GSTT1 null genotype was higher in cases (59.4%) compared to controls (47.2%) with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.68 and 95% confidence interval (CI) from 0.96 to 2.97 (P = 0.07), especially in males (OR = 2.78; 95% CI = 1.22–6.25; P = 0.01). No associations were found between polymorphisms of CYP1A1, CYP1B1, CYP2A6, CYP2E1, GSTM1, GSTP1, and EPHX and ESCC (P > 0.05).
Our results demonstrated that dietary and environmental exposures, some demographic parameters and genetic polymorphism of GSTT1 may play important roles in the development of ESCC in Huaian area, China.
PMCID: PMC1774575  PMID: 17173682
24.  Recent advances in oesophageal diseases 
Dong Y, Qi B, Feng XY, Jiang CM. Meta-analysis of Barrett's esophagus in China. World J Gastroenterol 2013;19(46):8770-8779
The disease pattern of Barrett's esophagus (BE) in China is poorly characterised particularly in comparison with other developed countries. This meta-analysis of 3873 cases of BE collated from 69 clinical studies conducted in 25 provinces between 2000 and 2011 investigated the epidemiology and characteristics of BE in China compared to Western countries. The total endoscopic detection rate of BE was 1.0% (95%CI: 0.1%-1.8%) with an average patient age of 49.07 ± 5.09 years, lower than many Western countries.The authors postulate this may be attributed to environmental risk factor variation, distinct genetics and different medical practice including diagnostic criteria for BE and expertise in endoscopy. This study identified a 1.781 male predominancefor BE in China, consistent with Western reports. Short-segment BE accounted for 80.3% of cases with island type and cardiac type the most common endoscopic (44.8%) and histological (40.0%) manifestations respectively. Of the 1283 BE cases followed up for three to 36 months the incidence of esophageal cancer was 1.418 per 1000 person-years, lower than the incidence reported in Western countries.
Lee HS, Jeon SW. Barrett esophagus in Asia: same disease with different pattern. ClinEndosc 2014;47(1):15-22
Barrett's esophagus (BE) is a common, pre-cancerous condition characterised by intestinal metaplasia of squamous esophageal epithelium usually attributed to chronic gastric acid exposure. This review article explores important differences in the disease pattern of BE between Asian and the Western countries.
Overall the prevalence of BE is lower in Asia compared to the West with a greater proportion of short-segment type. The authors identify great variability in the endoscopic and pathologic diagnostic criteria for BE. Many of the studies in Asian countries did not use a standardised four-quadrant biopsy protocol which may have led to an underestimation of BE prevalence. The review highlights an increasing incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma in the West but unclear disease trend in Asia with inter-country variability. Similarly in Asian and Western countries BE is associated with the presence of hiatus hernia, advancing age, male gender, alcohol consumption, smoking, abdominal obesity and longer duration of gastro-esophageal reflux disease. The authors postulate that Helicobacter pylori infection, more prevalent in Asia than the West, may have a protective effect on BE.
There is a need for larger, prospective studies to further clarify the disease pattern of BE in Asian countries. Clearly standardisation of the diagnostic process for BE is important to validate the differences in disease trends between Asian and Western countries.
Kiadaliri AA. Gender and social disparities in esophagus cancer incidence in Iran, 2003-2009: a time trend province-level study.Asian Pac J Cancer Prev 2014;15(2):623-7
Esophageal cancer (EC) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality particuarly in Iran where the incidence rate exceeds the global average. An understanding of the factors influencing the province-specific incidence of EC in Iran is important to inform disease-prevention strategies and address health inequalities. This ecological study used cancer registry data to investigate the relationship between gender and social class and the incidence of EC in Iran at province-level between 2003 and 2009. The age standardised incidence rates (ASIR) of EC were greatest in the Northern provinces of Iran, specifically Razavi Khorasan in males and Kordestan in females. Overall the EC incidence did not significantly differ according to gender.
Interestingly, during the study period the ASIR increased by 4.6% per year in females (p=0.08) and 6.5% per year in males (p=0.02). This may reflect increasing rates of establised risk factors for EC including obsesity and gastro-esophageal reflux disease alongside more vigilant recording of new cases. Social class was inversely associated with the ASIR of EC regardless of gender which may be attributed to class differences in risk factor distribution particularly smoking, diet and obesity. An appreciation for the limitations of an epidemiological study is important when interpreting results which should be further evaluated in future studies.
Islami F et al.Determinants of gastroesophageal reflux disease, including hookah smoking and opium use- A cross-sectional analysis of 50,000 individuals. PLoS One 2014;9(2):e89256
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a highly prevalent cause of gastrointestinal symptoms worldwide incurring great cost to the primary and secondary healthcare sectors. An improved understanding of the factors which influence GERD symptoms in low- to medium- income countries may inform public health initiatives. This study analysed prospective data from the Golestan cohort study, primarily established to investigate determinants of upper gastrointestinal cancers, toexplore the risk factors influencing GERD symptoms (regurgitation and/or heartburn) in 50,045 individuals aged 40-75 years in Golestan Province, Iran enrolled between 01/2004 and 06/2008.Of note, 39.12% of individuals denied ever experiencing GERD symptoms. A further 19.89% reported at least once weekly GERD symptoms with 11.83% experiencing daily symptoms. Severe symptoms, defined as disturbing daily work or sleep, were recorded by 11.33% of individuals.
Separately the occurrence of daily GERD symptoms and severe symptoms were inversely associated with male gender (OR 0.36, 95% CI 0.33-0.39 both), level of formal education (p=0.01 and p=0.001 respectively), wealth score (p<0.001 both) and regular nass chewing (OR 0.86, 95% CI 0.75-0.98 and OR 0.87, 95% CI 0.76-0.99 respectively)and were positively associated with body mass index (p<0.001 both), intensity of physical activity (p=0.04 both), cigarette pack years (p<0.001 both), alcohol consumption (OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.13-1.64 and OR 1.53, 95% CI 1.28-1.83 respectively) and opium use (OR 1.82, 95% CI 1.67-1.99 and OR 1.70, 95% CI 1.55-1.87 respectively).In addition hookah smoking had a borderline significant correlation with mild and moderate severity GERD symptoms in individuals who had never smoked cigarettes (OR 1.41, 95% CI 1.00-1.99 and OR 1.25, 95% CI 0.99-1.57 respectively).
Overall this large study contributes useful data to inform the prevention and management of GERD symptoms particularly regarding the use of hookah, opium and nass which was previously unclear.
Barbera M et al. The human squamous oesophagus has widespread capacity for clonal expansion from cells at diverse stages of differentiation. Gut 2014;0:1–9. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2013-306171
Current knowledge on human esophageal tissue homeostasis and injury repair is derived predominantly from murine models and hence may be inaccurate due to cellular and architectural differences. This study used 3D imaging in conjunction withstaining for cell lineage markers to investigate the cellular mechanisms involved in homeostasis of the normal human squamous esophagus in 10 participants undergoing esophagectomy for esophageal cancer. The self-renewal potential of cell subpopulations was also assessed using in vitro and in vivo assays.
A decreasing gradient of cell proliferation was observed from the inter-papillary basal layer to the tip of the papilla where there was no evidence of mitosis. The expression ofβ1-integrin, a putative stem cell marker, was consistent throughout the basal layer and therefore the entire basal layer can be considered undifferentiated. Quiescent β1-integrin/CD34-positive cells which failed to stain for CD45, S-100 or F4-80were identified at the tip of the papilla suggesting this is an extension of the basal layer. Contrary to previous data, this study found progenitor cells widely distributed in human esophageal tissue and included already differentiated epithelial cells. This insight into esophageal homeostasis may inform future studies exploring the pathological mechanisms underpinning homeostatic disruption in disease states such as Barrett's esophagus.
Papers were prepared by:
Drs Ishfaq Ahmad and Luke Materacki, Department of Medicine, Alexandra Hospital, Redditch, UK
PMCID: PMC4129572  PMID: 25120902
25.  Survival after Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis is Associated with Colorectal Cancer Family History 
Colorectal cancer (CRC) family history is a known risk factor for CRC development; however, effects of CRC family history on survival after CRC diagnosis are less well defined. Our population-based analysis investigates whether familial CRC cases exhibit improved survival compared to sporadic CRC cases.
Cases enrolled in the University of California Irvine Gene-Environment Study of Familial Colorectal Cancer from 1994–1996 were analyzed, with follow-up through December 2006. Cases were categorized as familial or sporadic based on self-reported CRC family history in a first-degree relative. Univariate and multivariate survival analyses with Cox proportional hazards ratios were performed for overall survival (OS) and CRC-specific survival (CRC-SS).
1154 CRC cases were analyzed, including 781 colon cancer and 373 rectal cancer cases. 19% of colon cases had family history of CRC in a first degree relative, compared with 16% of rectal cancer cases. No statistically significant differences between familial and sporadic colon or rectal cancer cases were detected for age, gender, ethnicity, stage, tumor location, histology, tumor grade, or stage-specific treatment rendered. Among colon cancer cases, family history of CRC (vs. no family history as a referent group) was associated with improved OS (adjusted HR = 0.760; 95% CI 0.580–0.997), but not with CRC-SS (HR = 0.880, 95% CI 0.621–1.246). No OS or CRC-SS differences were detected for rectal cancer cases.
CRC cases with family history of the disease have improved overall survival compared with sporadic CRC cases, a finding that is independent of other relevant clinical factors.
PMCID: PMC2739671  PMID: 18990755

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