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1.  Genome-wide association studies of gastric adenocarcinoma and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma identify a shared susceptibility locus in PLCE1 at 10q23 
Nature genetics  2012;44(10):1090-1097.
We conducted a genome-wide association study of gastric cancer (GC) and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in ethnic Chinese subjects in which we genotyped 551,152 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We report a combined analysis of 2,240 GC cases, 2,115 ESCC cases, and 3,302 controls drawn from five studies. In logistic regression models adjusted for age, sex, and study, multiple variants at 10q23 had genome-wide significance for GC and ESCC independently. A notable signal was rs2274223, a nonsynonymous SNP located in PLCE1, for GC (P=8.40×1010; per allele odds ratio (OR) = 1.31) and ESCC (P=3.85×10−9; OR = 1.34). The association with GC differed by anatomic subsite. For tumors located in the cardia the association was stronger (P=4.19 × 10−15; OR= 1.57) and for those located in the noncardia stomach it was absent (P=0.44; OR=1.05). Our findings at 10q23 could provide insight into the high incidence rates of both cancers in China.
PMCID: PMC3513832  PMID: 22960999
2.  Association between novel PLCE1 variants identified in published esophageal cancer genome-wide association studies and risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:258.
Phospholipase C epsilon 1 (PLCE1) (an effector of Ras) belonging to the phospholipase family plays crucial roles in carcinogenesis and progression of several cancers, including squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP, rs2274223) in PLCE1 has been identified as a novel susceptibility locus in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and gastric cardia adenocarcinoma (GCA) that share similar risk factors with SCCHN. Therefore, we investigated the association between potentially functional SNPs in PLCE1 and susceptibility to SCCHN.
We genotyped three potentially functional SNPs (rs2274223A/G, rs3203713A/G and rs11599672T/G) of PLCE1 in 1,098 SCCHN patients and 1,090 controls matched by age and sex in a non-Hispanic white population.
Although none of three SNPs was alone significantly associated with overall risk of SCCHN, their combined effects of risk alleles (rs2274223G, rs3203713G and rs11599672G) were found to be associated with risk of SCCHN in a locus-dose effect manner (Ptrend = 0.046), particularly for non-oropharyngeal tumors (Ptrend = 0.017); specifically, rs2274223 was associated with a significantly increased risk (AG vs. AA: adjusted OR = 1.29, 95% CI = 1.01-1.64; AG/GG vs. AA: adjusted OR = 1.30, 95% CI = 1.03-1.64), while rs11599672 was associated with a significantly decreased risk (GG vs. TT: adjusted OR = 0.54, 95% CI = 0.34-0.86; TG/GG vs. TT: adjusted OR = 0.76, 95% CI = 0.61-0.95).
Our findings suggest that PLCE1 variants may have an effect on risk of SCCHN associated with tobacco and alcohol exposure, particularly for those tumors arising at non-oropharyngeal sites. These findings, although need to be validated by larger studies, are consistent with those in esophageal and gastric cancers.
PMCID: PMC3142535  PMID: 21689432
PLCE1; polymorphism; SCCHN; risk; susceptibility
3.  Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Gastric Cardia Adenocarcinoma Shared Susceptibility Locus in PLCE1: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69214.
Background And Objective
Two recent genome-wide association studies have identified a shared susceptibility variation PLCE1 rs2274223 for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and gastric cardia adenocarcinomas (GCA). Subsequent case-control studies have reported this association in other populations. However, the findings were controversial and the effect remains undetermined. Our aim is to provide a precise quantification of the association between PLCE1 rs2274223 variation and the risk of ESCC and GCA.
Studies were identified by a literature search in MEDLINE and EMBASE databases. Pooled odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were used to assess the association in allele, dominant, recessive, homozygous, and heterozygous models.
Ten articles were identified, including 22156 ESCC cases and 28803 controls, 5197 GCA cases and 17613 controls. Overall, PLCE1 rs2274223 G allele (G vs. A: OR=1.26, 95% CI: 1.15-1.39 for ESCC; OR=1.51, 95% CI: 1.35–1.69 for GCA) and its carrier (GG +AG vs. AA: OR = 1.23; 95% CI =1.02-1.49 for ESCC; OR =1.62; 95% CI =1.15-2.29 for GCA) were significantly associated with the risk of ESCC and GCA. In stratified analysis by ethnicity, significant association of PLCE1 rs2274223 G allele and the risk of ESCC (OR=1.33, 95% CI 1.21–1.45) and GCA (OR =1.56, 95% CI: 1.47-1.64) was observed in Chinese population.
Our meta-analysis results indicated that PLCE1 rs2274223 G allele significantly contributed to the risk of ESCC and GCA, especially in Chinese population.
PMCID: PMC3715467  PMID: 23874915
4.  PLCE1 Polymorphism and Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67229.
In recent years, the PLCE1 rs2274223 polymorphism has been extensively investigated as a potential risk factor for upper gastrointestinal cancers, including squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and gastric cancer. However, the results of these studies have been inconsistent.
A meta-analysis of 13 case-control studies was performed including more than 11,000 subjects with genotyped PLCE1 rs2274223 polymorphisms. Odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were employed to assess the association of the PLCE1 rs2274223 polymorphism with a susceptibility to ESCC or gastric cancer.
A statistically significant increase in the risk of ESCC was associated with the PLCE1 rs2274223 polymorphism. This included the homozygous genetic model (OR = 1.46), heterozygous genetic model (OR = 1.25) and allelic genetic model (OR = 1.23). Similar results were consistently found for gastric cancer. In a subgroup analysis, the PLCE1 rs2274223 polymorphism was found to be a very sensitive marker for gastric cardia cancer as shown by the homozygous genetic model (OR = 2.23), heterozygous genetic model(OR = 1.59) and allelic genetic model (OR = 1.47). The risk associations of all of the gastric cardia cancer models were statistically significant. In contrast, none of the genetic models for non-cardia gastric cancer were significant.
In this meta-analysis, the PLCE1 rs2274223 polymorphism was confirmed to have a statistically significant association with an increasing risk of ESCC and gastric cancer. The increase risk was especially observed for gastric cardia cancer.
PMCID: PMC3691110  PMID: 23826241
5.  Potentially Functional Variants of PLCE1 Identified by GWASs Contribute to Gastric Adenocarcinoma Susceptibility in an Eastern Chinese Population 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e31932.
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have found a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP, rs2274223 A>G) in PLCE1 to be associated with risk of gastric adenocarcinoma. In the present study, we validated this finding and also explored the risk associated with another unreported potentially functional SNP (rs11187870 G>C) of PLCE1 in a hospital-based case-control study of 1059 patients with pathologically confirmed gastric adenocarcinoma and 1240 frequency-matched healthy controls.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We determined genotypes of these two SNPs by the Taqman assay and used logistic regression models to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). We found that a significant higher gastric adenocarcinoma risk was associated with rs2274223 variant G allele (adjusted OR = 1.35, 95% CI = 1.14–1.60 for AG+GG vs. AA) and rs11187870 variant C allele (adjusted OR = 1.26, 95% CI = 1.05–1.50 for CG+CC vs. GG). We also found that the number of combined risk alleles (i.e., rs2274223G and rs11187870C) was associated with risk of gastric adenocarcinoma in an allele-dose effect manner (Ptrend = 0.0002). Stratification analysis indicated that the combined effect of rs2274223G and rs11187870C variant alleles was more evident in subgroups of males, non-smokers, non-drinkers and patients with gastric cardia adenocarcinoma. Further real-time PCR results showed that expression levels of PLCE1 mRNA were significantly lower in tumors than in adjacent noncancerous tissues (0.019±0.002 vs. 0.008±0.001, P<0.05).
Our results further confirmed that genetic variations in PLCE1 may contribute to gastric adenocarcinoma risk in an eastern Chinese population.
PMCID: PMC3295761  PMID: 22412849
6.  Variations in the MHC Region Confer Risk to Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma on the Subjects from High-Incidence Area in Northern China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90438.
The human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is the most important region in vertebrate genome, and is crucial in innate immunity. Recent studies have demonstrated the possible role of polymorphisms in the MHC region to high risk for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). Our previous genome-wide association study (GWAS) has indicated that the MHC region may confer important risk loci for ESCC, but without further fine mapping. The aim of this study is to further identify the risk loci in the MHC region for ESCC in Chinese population.
Conditional logistic regression analysis (CLRA) was performed on 24 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the MHC region, which were obtained from the genetically matched 937 cases and 692 controls of Chinese Han population. The identified promising SNPs were further correlated with clinical and clinicopathology characteristics. Immunohistochemistry was performed to explore the protein expression pattern of the related genes in ESCC and neighboring normal tissues.
Of the 24 promising SNPs analyzed, we identified three independent SNPs in the MHC region associated with ESCC: rs35399661 (P = 6.07E-06, OR = 1.71, 95%CI = 1.36–2.17), rs3763338 (P = 1.62E-05, OR = 0.63, 95%CI = 0.50–0.78) and rs2844695 (P = 7.60E-05, OR = 0.74, 95%CI = 0.64–0.86). These three SNPs were located at the genes of HLA-DQA1, TRIM27, and DPCR1, respectively. Further analyses showed that rs2844695 was preferentially associated with younger ESCC cases (P = 0.009). The positive immunostaining rates both for HLA-DQA1 and TRIM27 were much higher in ESCC tissues than in neighboring normal tissues (69.4% vs. 26.8% for HLA-DQA1 and 77.6% vs. 47.8% for TRIM27, P<0.001). Furthermore, the overexpression of HLA-DQA1 is correlated significantly with age (P = 0.001) and family history (P<0.001).
This study for the first time provides evidence that multiple genetic factors within the MHC region confer risk to ESCC on the subjects from high-risk area in northern China.
PMCID: PMC3942432  PMID: 24595008
7.  Polymorphism in COX-2 modifies the inverse association between Helicobacter pylori seropositivity and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma risk in Taiwan: a case control study 
BMC Gastroenterology  2009;9:37.
Overexpression of Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) was observed in many types of cancers, including esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). One functional SNP, COX-2 -1195G/A, has been reported to mediate susceptibility of ESCC in Chinese populations. In our previous study, the presence of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) was found to play a protective role in development of ESCC. The interaction of COX-2 and H. pylori in gastric cancer was well investigated. However, literature on their interaction in ESCC risk is scarce. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association and interaction between COX-2 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), H. pylori infection and the risk of developing ESCC.
One hundred and eighty patients with ESCC and 194 controls were enrolled in this study. Personal data regarding related risk factors, including alcohol consumption, smoking habits and betel quid chewing, were collected via questionnaire. Genotypes of the COX-2 -1195 polymorphism were determined by PCR-based restriction fragment length polymorphism. H. pylori seropositivity was defined by immunochromatographic screening test. Data was analyzed by chi-squared tests and polytomous logistics regression.
In analysis adjusting for the covariates and confounders, H. pylori seropositivity was found to be inversely association with the ESCC development (adjusted OR: 0.5, 95% CI: 0.3 – 0.9). COX-2 -1195 AA homozygous was associated with an increased risk of contracting ESCC in comparison with the non-AA group, especially among patients with H. pylori seronegative (adjusted OR ratio: 2.9, 95% CI: 1.2 – 7.3). The effect was strengthened among patients with lower third ESCC (adjusted OR ratio: 6.9, 95% CI 2.1 – 22.5). Besides, H. pylori seropositivity conveyed a notably inverse effect among patients with COX-2 AA polymorphism (AOR ratio: 0.3, 95% CI: 0.1 – 0.9), and the effect was observed to be enhanced for the lower third ESCC patients (AOR ratio: 0.09, 95% CI: 0.02 – 0.47, p for multiplicative interaction 0.008)
H. pylori seropositivity is inversely associated with the risk of ESCC in Taiwan, and COX-2 -1195 polymorphism plays a role in modifying the influence between H. pylori and ESCC, especially in lower third esophagus.
PMCID: PMC2693118  PMID: 19463183
8.  Genotypic variants at 2q33 and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in China: a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies 
Abnet, Christian C. | Wang, Zhaoming | Song, Xin | Hu, Nan | Zhou, Fu-You | Freedman, Neal D. | Li, Xue-Min | Yu, Kai | Shu, Xiao-Ou | Yuan, Jian-Min | Zheng, Wei | Dawsey, Sanford M. | Liao, Linda M. | Lee, Maxwell P. | Ding, Ti | Qiao, You-Lin | Gao, Yu-Tang | Koh, Woon-Puay | Xiang, Yong-Bing | Tang, Ze-Zhong | Fan, Jin-Hu | Chung, Charles C. | Wang, Chaoyu | Wheeler, William | Yeager, Meredith | Yuenger, Jeff | Hutchinson, Amy | Jacobs, Kevin B. | Giffen, Carol A. | Burdett, Laurie | Fraumeni, Joseph F. | Tucker, Margaret A. | Chow, Wong-Ho | Zhao, Xue-Ke | Li, Jiang-Man | Li, Ai-Li | Sun, Liang-Dan | Wei, Wu | Li, Ji-Lin | Zhang, Peng | Li, Hong-Lei | Cui, Wen-Yan | Wang, Wei-Peng | Liu, Zhi-Cai | Yang, Xia | Fu, Wen-Jing | Cui, Ji-Li | Lin, Hong-Li | Zhu, Wen-Liang | Liu, Min | Chen, Xi | Chen, Jie | Guo, Li | Han, Jing-Jing | Zhou, Sheng-Li | Huang, Jia | Wu, Yue | Yuan, Chao | Huang, Jing | Ji, Ai-Fang | Kul, Jian-Wei | Fan, Zhong-Min | Wang, Jian-Po | Zhang, Dong-Yun | Zhang, Lian-Qun | Zhang, Wei | Chen, Yuan-Fang | Ren, Jing-Li | Li, Xiu-Min | Dong, Jin-Cheng | Xing, Guo-Lan | Guo, Zhi-Gang | Yang, Jian-Xue | Mao, Yi-Ming | Yuan, Yuan | Guo, Er-Tao | Zhang, Wei | Hou, Zhi-Chao | Liu, Jing | Li, Yan | Tang, Sa | Chang, Jia | Peng, Xiu-Qin | Han, Min | Yin, Wan-Li | Liu, Ya-Li | Hu, Yan-Long | Liu, Yu | Yang, Liu-Qin | Zhu, Fu-Guo | Yang, Xiu-Feng | Feng, Xiao-Shan | Wang, Zhou | Li, Yin | Gao, She-Gan | Liu, Hai-Lin | Yuan, Ling | Jin, Yan | Zhang, Yan-Rui | Sheyhidin, Ilyar | Li, Feng | Chen, Bao-Ping | Ren, Shu-Wei | Liu, Bin | Li, Dan | Zhang, Gao-Fu | Yue, Wen-Bin | Feng, Chang-Wei | Qige, Qirenwang | Zhao, Jian-Ting | Yang, Wen-Jun | Lei, Guang-Yan | Chen, Long-Qi | Li, En-Min | Xu, Li-Yan | Wu, Zhi-Yong | Bao, Zhi-Qin | Chen, Ji-Li | Li, Xian-Chang | Zhuang, Xiang | Zhou, Ying-Fa | Zuo, Xian-Bo | Dong, Zi-Ming | Wang, Lu-Wen | Fan, Xue-Pin | Wang, Jin | Zhou, Qi | Ma, Guo-Shun | Zhang, Qin-Xian | Liu, Hai | Jian, Xin-Ying | Lian, Sin-Yong | Wang, Jin-Sheng | Chang, Fu-Bao | Lu, Chang-Dong | Miao, Jian-Jun | Chen, Zhi-Guo | Wang, Ran | Guo, Ming | Fan, Zeng-Lin | Tao, Ping | Liu, Tai-Jing | Wei, Jin-Chang | Kong, Qing-Peng | Fan, Lei | Wang, Xian-Zeng | Gao, Fu-Sheng | Wang, Tian-Yun | Xie, Dong | Wang, Li | Chen, Shu-Qing | Yang, Wan-Cai | Hong, Jun-Yan | Wang, Liang | Qiu, Song-Liang | Goldstein, Alisa M. | Yuan, Zhi-Qing | Chanock, Stephen J. | Zhang, Xue-Jun | Taylor, Philip R. | Wang, Li-Dong
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(9):2132-2141.
Genome-wide association studies have identified susceptibility loci for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). We conducted a meta-analysis of all single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that showed nominally significant P-values in two previously published genome-wide scans that included a total of 2961 ESCC cases and 3400 controls. The meta-analysis revealed five SNPs at 2q33 with P< 5 × 10−8, and the strongest signal was rs13016963, with a combined odds ratio (95% confidence interval) of 1.29 (1.19–1.40) and P= 7.63 × 10−10. An imputation analysis of 4304 SNPs at 2q33 suggested a single association signal, and the strongest imputed SNP associations were similar to those from the genotyped SNPs. We conducted an ancestral recombination graph analysis with 53 SNPs to identify one or more haplotypes that harbor the variants directly responsible for the detected association signal. This showed that the five SNPs exist in a single haplotype along with 45 imputed SNPs in strong linkage disequilibrium, and the strongest candidate was rs10201587, one of the genotyped SNPs. Our meta-analysis found genome-wide significant SNPs at 2q33 that map to the CASP8/ALS2CR12/TRAK2 gene region. Variants in CASP8 have been extensively studied across a spectrum of cancers with mixed results. The locus we identified appears to be distinct from the widely studied rs3834129 and rs1045485 SNPs in CASP8. Future studies of esophageal and other cancers should focus on comprehensive sequencing of this 2q33 locus and functional analysis of rs13016963 and rs10201587 and other strongly correlated variants.
PMCID: PMC3315211  PMID: 22323360
9.  Overexpression of Periostin and Lumican in Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
Cancers  2010;2(1):133-142.
To identify biomarkers for early detection for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), we previously carried out a genome-wide gene expression profiling study using an oligonucleotide microarray platform. This analysis led to identification of several transcripts that were significantly upregulated in ESCC compared to the adjacent normal epithelium. In the current study, we performed immunohistochemical analyses of protein products for two candidates genes identified from the DNA microarray analysis, periostin (POSTN) and lumican (LUM), using tissue microarrays. Increased expression of both periostin and lumican was observed in 100% of 137 different ESCC samples arrayed on tissue microarrays. Increased expression of periostin and lumican was observed in carcinoma as well as in stromal cell in the large majority of cases. These findings suggest that these candidates can be investigated in the sera of ESCC patients using ELISA or multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) type assays to further explore their utility as biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC3827595  PMID: 24281036
stroma; extracellular matrix; DNA microarrays; epithelial-mesenchymal transition
10.  Candidate Gene Association Study of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma in a High-Risk Region in Iran 
Cancer research  2009;69(20):7994-8000.
A region with a high risk for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in northeast of Iran was identified more than three decades ago. Previous studies suggest that hereditary factors play a role in the high incidence of cancer in the region. Polymorphisms of several genes have been associated with susceptibility to esophageal cancer in various populations, but these have not been studied in Iran. We selected 22 functional variants (and 130 related tagSNPs) from 15 genes which previously have been suggested to be associated with an increased risk of ESCC. We genotyped a primary set of samples from 451 Turkmen (197 cases and 254 controls). Seven of 152 variants were associated with ESCC at the P = 0.05 level; these SNPs were then studied in a validation set of 1668 cases and controls (Turkmen and non-Turkmen) under dominant and recessive models. In the joint sample set, five variants, from five different genes, showed significant associations with ESCC at the P = 0.05 level. For one variant, in ADH1B, the association was strong and was present in both Turkmen and non-Turkmen. The histidine allele at codon 48 of ADH1B gene was associated with a significantly decreased risk of ESCC under a recessive model (OR = 0.41, 95%, CI = 0.19 to 0.49; P = 4×10−4). For four additional variants, an association was present in the Turkmen subgroup, but the statistical significance of these was less compelling than for ADH1B. Two variants showed deleterious effects and two were protective. The G allele of the c.870A>G variant of CCND1 gene was associated with a 1.5-fold increased risk of ESCC under the recessive model (OR = 1.50, 95% CI = 1.14 to 2.16, P = 0.02) and the A allele of the rs1625895 variant of TP53 gene was associated with a 1.5-fold increased risk of ESCC under a dominant model (OR = 1.54, 95% CI = 1.21 to 4.07, P = 0.005). The C allele of the rs886205 variant of ALDH2 was associated with a decreased risk of ESCC under a recessive model (OR = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.34 to 0.87, P = 0.02) and the A allele of the rs7087131 variant of MGMT was associated with a decreased risk of ESCC under the recessive model (OR = 0.26, 95% CI = 0.05 to 0.49, P=0.01). These results confirm that genetic predisposition to ESCC plays a role in high incidence of this cancer among Turkmens who live in northeast of Iran.
PMCID: PMC3505030  PMID: 19826048
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Turkmen population; ADH1B; ALDH2; MGMT; TP53; CCND1
11.  Genetic Variants in Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Pathway Genes and Risk of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Gastric Cancer in a Chinese Population 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68999.
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling pathway regulates cell proliferation, differentiation, and survival, and is frequently dysregulated in esophageal and gastric cancers. Few studies have comprehensively examined the association between germline genetic variants in the EGFR pathway and risk of esophageal and gastric cancers. Based on a genome-wide association study in a Han Chinese population, we examined 3443 SNPs in 127 genes in the EGFR pathway for 1942 esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCCs), 1758 gastric cancers (GCs), and 2111 controls. SNP-level analyses were conducted using logistic regression models. We applied the resampling-based adaptive rank truncated product approach to determine the gene- and pathway-level associations. The EGFR pathway was significantly associated with GC risk (P = 2.16×10−3). Gene-level analyses found 10 genes to be associated with GC, including FYN, MAPK8, MAP2K4, GNAI3, MAP2K1, TLN1, PRLR, PLCG2, RPS6KB2, and PIK3R3 (P<0.05). For ESCC, we did not observe a significant pathway-level association (P = 0.72), but gene-level analyses suggested associations between GNAI3, CHRNE, PAK4, WASL, and ITCH, and ESCC (P<0.05). Our data suggest an association between specific genes in the EGFR signaling pathway and risk of GC and ESCC. Further studies are warranted to validate these associations and to investigate underlying mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3715462  PMID: 23874846
12.  HER2 gene amplification in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma is less than in gastroesophageal junction and gastric adenocarcinoma 
Oncology Letters  2013;6(1):13-18.
The aim of the present study was to detect the amplification of the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) gene in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma (GEJAC) and gastric cancer (GC), as well as to understand the pathological meaning of HER2 gene amplification with regard to clinico-pathological parameters in these types of cancer. HER2 gene amplification was evaluated by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) in surgically obtained specimens from 76 cases of ESCC, 50 of GEJAC and 48 of GC, as well as 21 specimens of tumor-adjacent normal epithelium as a control group. The HER2 gene amplification rates in ESCC, GEJAC and GC were 3.9 (3/76), 24.0 (12/50) and 18.8% (9/48), respectively. The rates of HER2 gene amplification in GEJAC and GC were significantly higher compared with ESCC (χ2=11.563, P<0.001 and χ2=7.375, P<0.007, respectively). HER2 gene amplification was not detected in the normal esophageal or gastric mucosa samples. In ESCC, HER2 gene amplification was correlated with the invasion of the ESCC cells, vascular invasion and lymph node metastasis (χ2=4.789, 3.858 and 5.354, respectively; all P<0.05). However, in GEJAC and GC, no correlations were observed between HER2 amplification and the gender, age, degree of differentiation, invasion, vascular invasion and lymph node metastases of the patients (all P>0.05). The rate of HER-2 gene amplification was low in ESCC, although the amplification of HER-2 was correlated with tumor metastasis in these patients. The rates of HER-2 gene amplification in GEJAC and GC were higher compared with ESCC. Therefore, compared with ESCC, GEJAC may be more similar to GC with regard to HER-2 gene amplification features.
PMCID: PMC3742794  PMID: 23946770
esophageal cancer; gastric cancer; human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 gene; fluorescence in situ hybridization
13.  Genetic variation in C20orf54, PLCE1 and MUC1 and risk of upper gastrointestinal cancers in Caucasian populations 
Recently, two large genome wide association studies, conducted in Chinese populations, reported associations between upper gastrointestinal (GI) cancer and the rs2274223, rs13042395 and rs4072037 polymorphisms in PLCE1, C20orf54 and MUC1 respectively. We set out to determine whether similar associations existed for Caucasian populations.
We genotyped two population-based, case-control studies of upper GI cancer; the first included 290 gastric cancer cases and 376 controls; the second study included 306 gastric cancer cases, 107 oesophageal adenocarcinoma cancer cases, 52 oesphageal squamous cell cancer cases, and 211 controls. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were computed from logistic models and adjusted for confounding variables.
The rs4072037 polymorphism in MUC1 was associated with a reduced risk of gastric cancer of intestinal histological type (OR 0.4; 95% CI 0.2–0.9), and a reduced risk of oesophageal squamous cell cancer (OR 0.5; 95% CI 0.2–1.0), but not oesphageal adenocarcinoma. Likewise, rs2274223 in PLCE1 was associated with a reduced risk of oesophageal squamous cell cancer (OR 0.5; 95% CI 0.3–1.0) but not oesphageal adenocarcinoma. We observed no association between rs13042395 in Corf54 and risk of gastric or oesphageal cancer in either of the two studies.
Our findings for rs4072037 and gastric cancer risk are in keeping with one previous report for a Caucasian population. To the best of our knowledge this is the first study to report an association between rs2274223 and rs4072037 and risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma in a Caucasian population.
PMCID: PMC3460062  PMID: 22805490
14.  N-acetyltransferase 2 Polymorphisms and Risk of Esophageal Cancer in a Chinese Population 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87783.
Esophageal cancer was the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer and the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in China in 2009. Genetic factors might play an important role in the carcinogenesis of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). We conducted a hospital-based case-control study to evaluate ten NAT2 tagging 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 method. In the single locus analyses, there was a borderline statistically significant difference in genotype frequencies of NAT2 rs1565684 T>C SNP between the cases and the controls (p = 0.057). The NAT2 rs1565684 CC genotype was associated with a borderline significantly increased risk for ESCC (CC vs. TT: adjusted OR = 1.77, 95% CI = 0.97–3.21, p = 0.063 and CC vs. TT/TC: adjusted OR = 1.68, 95% CI = 0.93–3.04, p = 0.085). The association was evident among older patients and patients who never drunk. After the Bonferroni correction, in all comparison models, NAT2 rs1565684 T>C SNP was not associated with ESCC risk (p>0.05). For the other nine NAT2 SNPs, after Bonferroni correction, in all comparison models, the nine SNPs were also not associated with ESCC risk (p>0.05). Thus, nine NAT2 tagging SNPs were not associated with risk of ESCC. NAT2 rs1565684 T>C SNP might play a slight role in ESCC etiology. Additional, larger studies and tissue-specific biological characterization are required to confirm the current findings.
PMCID: PMC3929587  PMID: 24586291
15.  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
16.  Jasmine tea consumption and upper gastrointestinal cancer in China 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2009;20(10):1997-2007.
Epidemiological data on green/jasmine tea and esophageal as well as gastric cancer are limited and inconclusive. In order to study the effect of jasmine tea in upper gastrointestinal (UGI) cancers, we evaluated 600 esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), 598 gastric cardia adenocarcinoma (GCA), and 316 gastric non-cardia adenocarcinoma (GNCA) cases and 1514 age-, gender-, and neighborhood-matched controls. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated from logistic regression adjusted for matching factors and potential confounders. Among controls, 35% of males and 8% of females reported consumption of jasmine tea; other tea consumption was rare. Consumption of jasmine tea (ever vs. never) was not associated with risk of ESCC (OR=1.15, 95% CI 0.92–1.44), GCA (OR=1.14, 95% CI 0.88–1.37), or GNCA (OR=0.85, 95% CI 0.64–1.15) in males and females combined. Among males, cumulative lifetime consumption showed a significant positive dose-response relation with ESCC risk, but not for GCA and GNCA. In exploratory analyses, occupation affected the relation between tea and ESCC such that consumption in males was associated with increased risk only in non-office workers. Overall, we found no evidence for a protective effect of tea in esophageal or gastric cancer. Further studies of the potential effects of thermal damage, tea quality, and water quality on UGI cancers are suggested.
PMCID: PMC3236106  PMID: 19597950
jasmine tea; esophageal cancer; gastric cancer
17.  Functional Polymorphisms in Interleukin-23 Receptor and Susceptibility to Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Chinese Population 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89111.
As a key element in the T-helper 17 (Th17) cell-mediated inflammatory process, interleukin-23 receptor (IL-23R) plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of cancer. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in IL-23R have been frequently studied in several previous case-control cancer studies, but its association with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in Chinese population has not been investigated. This study examined whether genetic polymorphisms in IL-23R were associated with ESCC susceptibility.
A hospital-based case-control study of 684 ESCC patients and 1064 healthy controls was performed to assess the association between four previous reported IL-23R genotypes (rs6682925, rs6683039, rs1884444 and rs10889677) and ESCC risk. The results revealed that the C allele of the rs10889677A>C polymorphism in the 3′UTR of IL-23R gene was inversely associated with the risk of ESCC.
The rs10889677AC genotype had significantly decreased cancer risk (odds ratio [OR] = 0.85, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.69–1.01) compared to subjects homozygous carriers of rs10889677AA, the risk decreased even further in those carrying rs10889677CC genotype (OR = 0.64, 95% CI = 0.44–0.93). No significant association was found between the other three polymorphisms and the risk of ESCC.
These findings indicated that rs10889677A>C polymorphism in IL-23R may play a protective role in mediating the risk of ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3938431  PMID: 24586528
18.  Atrophic gastritis: Risk factor for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in a Latin-American population 
AIM: To study the association between atrophic gastritis (AG) and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in a Latin-America population.
METHODS: A case-control study was performed at two reference Brazilian hospitals including patients diagnosed with advanced ESCC and dyspeptic patients who had been subjected to upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, with biopsies of the gastric antrum and body. All cases with ESCC were reviewed by a single pathologist, who applied standard criteria for the diagnosis of mucosal atrophy, intestinal metaplasia, and dysplasia, all classified as AG. The data on the patients’ age, sex, smoking status, and alcohol consumption were collected from clinical records, and any missing information was completed by telephone interview. The association between AG and ESCC was assessed by means of univariate and multiple conditional logistic regressions.
RESULTS: Most patients were male, and the median age was 59 years (range: 37-79 years) in both the ESCC and control groups. Univariate analysis showed that an intake of ethanol greater than 32 g/d was an independent risk factor that increased the odds of ESCC 7.57 times (P = 0.014); upon multiple analysis, alcohol intake of ethanol greater than 32 g/d exhibited a risk of 4.54 (P = 0.081), as adjusted for AG and smoking. Smoking was shown to be an independent risk factor that increased the odds of ESCC 14.55 times (P = 0.011) for individuals who smoked 0 to 51 packs/year and 21.40 times (P = 0.006) for those who smoked more than 51 packs/year. Upon multiple analyses, those who smoked up to 51 packs/year exhibited a risk of 7.85 (P = 0.058), and those who smoked more than 51 packs/ year had a risk 11.57 times higher (P = 0.04), as adjusted for AG and alcohol consumption. AG proved to be a risk factor that increased the odds of ESCC 5.33 times (95%CI: 1.55-18.30, P = 0.008) according to the results of univariate conditional logistic regression.
CONCLUSION: There was an association by univariate conditional logistic regression between AG and ECSS in this sample of Latin-American population.
PMCID: PMC3623983  PMID: 23599625
Atrophic gastritis; Esophagus; Squamous cell carcinoma; Risk factor; Alcohol; Tobacco
19.  Telomere attrition in cancer cells and telomere length in tumor stroma cells predicts chromosome instability in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma: a genome-wide analysis 
Cancer research  2009;69(4):1604-1614.
Previous studies demonstrated that chromosomal instability was common in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC); however, the mechanisms underlying this instability are unknown. Individuals with deficiencies in telomere maintenance are susceptible to enhanced telomere loss during cell proliferation; such deficiencies could result in telomere dysfunction and genomic instability. We investigated the association between genome-wide chromosomal changes in cancer cells and telomere length/attrition in cancer/stroma cells in 47 ESCC patients. Genome-wide detection of loss of heterozygosity (LOH) was performed using the Affymetrix GeneChip SNP arrays. Telomere length was assessed separately for cancer cells, carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), infiltrative lymphocytes, and adjacent normal epithelial cells by quantitative fluorescent in situ hybridization using paraffin-embedded sections. Telomere length differed significantly among cell types, such that length in infiltrative lymphocytes > CAFs > cancer cells. Shortened telomeres were observed in cancer cells in 44 out 47 (94%) of the tumors examined. Telomere length in CAFs was significantly associated with chromosomal instability on 4q and 13q, and lymphocytes telomere length was significantly associated with instability on chromosomal arms 15q. While telomere length in cancer cells was not associated with chromosome arm instability, telomere attrition in cancer cells, defined as the telomere length in CAFs minus the telomere length in cancer cells, was significantly associated with chromosomal instability on 13q and 15q. This study provides the evidence that telomere shortening is a common genetic alteration in ESCC, and that chromosome arm instability is related to both telomere attrition in cancer cells and telomere length in tumor stroma cells.
PMCID: PMC3710128  PMID: 19190333
Telomere length; chromosomal instability; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; telomere dysfunction
20.  Comparative genomic hybridization analysis of genetic aberrations associated with development of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in Henan, China 
AIM: To characterize cytogenetic alterations in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and its metastasis.
METHODS: A total of 37 cases of primary ESCC and 15 pairs of primary ESCC tumors and their matched metastatic lymph nodes cases were enrolled from Linzhou, the high incidence area for ESCC in Henan, northern China. The comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) was applied to determine the chromosomal aberrations on the DNA extracted from the frozen ESCC and metastatic lymph node samples from these patients.
RESULTS: CGH showed chromosomal aberrations in all the cases. In 37 cases of primary ESCC, chromosomal profile of DNA copy number was characterized by frequently detected gains at 8q (29/37, 78%), 3q (24/37, 65%), 5p (19/37, 51%); and frequently detected losses at 3p (21/37, 57%), 8p and 9q (14/37, 38%). In 15 pairs of primary ESCC tumors and their matched metastatic lymph node cases, the majority of the chromosomal aberrations in both primary tumor and metastatic lymph node lesions were consistent with the primary ESCC cases, but new candidate regions of interest were also detected. The most significant finding is the gains of chromosome 6p with a minimum high-level amplification region at 6p12-6q12 in 7 metastatic lymph nodes but only in 2 corresponding primary tumors (P = 0.05) and 20p with a minimum high-level amplification region at 20p12 in 11 metastatic lymph nodes but only in 5 corresponding primary tumors (P < 0.05). Another interesting finding is the loss of chromosome 10p and 10q in 8 and 7 metastatic lymph nodes but only in 2 corresponding primary tumors (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Using the CGH technique to detect chromosomal aberrations in both the primary tumor and its metastatic lymph nodes of ESCC, gains of 8q, 3q and 5p and loss of 3p, 8p, 9q and 13q were specifically implicated in ESCC in Linzhou population. Gains of 6p and 20p and loss of 10pq may contribute to the lymph node metastasis of ESCC. These findings suggest that the gains and losses of chromosomal regions may contain ESCC-related oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes and provide important theoretic information for identifying and cloning novel ESCC-related oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes.
PMCID: PMC2700406  PMID: 18350619
Comparative genomic hybridization; Genetic alterations; Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Metastatic lymph nodes
21.  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
22.  Replication of a genome-wide case-control study of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
In a previous pilot case-control study of individuals diagnosed with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and matched controls from a high-risk area in China, we identified 38 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with ESCC located in or near one of 33 genes. In the present study, we attempted to replicate the results of these 38 gene-related SNPs in a new sample of 300 ESCC cases and 300 matched controls from the same study conducted in Shanxi Province, China. Among 36 evaluable SNPs, four were significant in one or more analyses, including SNPs located in EPHB1, PGLYRP2, PIK3C3, and SLC9A9, although the odds ratios (ORs) for these genotypes were modest. Associations were found with EPHB1/rs1515366 (OR 0.92, 95% CI 0.86-0.99; p = 0.019), PIK3C3/rs52911 (OR 0.93, 95% CI 0.88-0.99; p = 0.02), and PGLYRP2/rs959117 (OR 0.93, 95% CI, 0.86-1.01; p = 0.061) in general linear models (additive mode); and the genotype distribution differed between cases and controls for SLC9A9/rs956062 (p = 0.024). To examine these four genes in more detail, 40 HapMap-based tag SNPs from these four genes were evaluated in the same subjects, and seven additional SNPs associated with ESCC were identified. Further confirmation of these findings in other populations and other studies are needed to determine if the signals from these SNPs are indirectly associated due to linkage disequilibrium, or are directly related to biologic function and the development of ESCC.
PMCID: PMC2552411  PMID: 18649358
Esophageal cancer; Replication study; SNP
23.  Genome-wide loss of heterozygosity and copy number alteration in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma using the Affymetrix GeneChip Mapping 10 K array 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:299.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is a common malignancy worldwide. Comprehensive genomic characterization of ESCC will further our understanding of the carcinogenesis process in this disease.
Genome-wide detection of chromosomal changes was performed using the Affymetrix GeneChip 10 K single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array, including loss of heterozygosity (LOH) and copy number alterations (CNA), for 26 pairs of matched germ-line and micro-dissected tumor DNA samples. LOH regions were identified by two methods – using Affymetrix's genotype call software and using Affymetrix's copy number alteration tool (CNAT) software – and both approaches yielded similar results. Non-random LOH regions were found on 10 chromosomal arms (in decreasing order of frequency: 17p, 9p, 9q, 13q, 17q, 4q, 4p, 3p, 15q, and 5q), including 20 novel LOH regions (10 kb to 4.26 Mb). Fifteen CNA-loss regions (200 kb to 4.3 Mb) and 36 CNA-gain regions (200 kb to 9.3 Mb) were also identified.
These studies demonstrate that the Affymetrix 10 K SNP chip is a valid platform to integrate analyses of LOH and CNA. The comprehensive knowledge gained from this analysis will enable improved strategies to prevent, diagnose, and treat ESCC.
PMCID: PMC1687196  PMID: 17134496
24.  Slug Is a Predictor of Poor Prognosis in Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma Patients 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82846.
Slug, a regulator of epithelial mesenchymal transition, was identified to be differentially expressed in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) using cDNA microarrays by our laboratory. This study aimed to determine the clinical significance of Slug overexpression in ESCC and determine its correlation with clinicopathological parameters and disease prognosis for ESCC patients.
Immunohistochemical analysis of Slug expression was carried out in archived tissue sections from 91 ESCCs, 61 dysplastic and 47 histologically normal esophageal tissues. Slug immunopositivity in epithelial cells was correlated with clinicopathological parameters and disease prognosis over up to 7.5 years for ESCC patients.
Increased expression of Slug was observed in esophageal dysplasia [cytoplasmic, 24/61 (39.3%) cases, p = 0.001, odd’s ratio (OR) = 4.7; nuclear, 11/61 (18%) cases, p < 0.001, OR = 1.36] in comparison with normal esophageal tissues. The Slug expression was further increased in ESCCs [cytoplasmic, 64/91 (70.3%) p < 0.001, OR = 10.0; nuclear, 27/91 (29.7%) p < 0.001, OR = 1.42]. Kaplan Meier survival analysis showed significant association of nuclear Slug accumulation with reduced disease free survival of ESCC patients (median disease free survival (DFS) = 6 months, as compared to those that did not show overexpression, DFS = 18 months; p = 0.006). In multivariate Cox regression analysis nuclear Slug expression [p= 0.005, Hazard’s ratio (HR) = 2.269, 95% CI = 1.289 - 3.996] emerged as the most significant independent predictor of poor prognosis for ESCC patients.
Alterations in Slug expression occur in early stages of development of ESCC and are sustained during disease progression. Slug may serve as a diagnostic biomarker and as a predictor of poor disease prognosis to identify ESCC patients that are likely to show recurrence of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3867395  PMID: 24367561
25.  Comparative Genomics of Esophageal Adenocarcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
The Annals of Thoracic Surgery  2012;93(4):1101-1106.
Esophageal cancer consists of two major histologic types: esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) predominant globally and esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) with a higher incidence in westernized countries. Five-year overall survival is 15%. Clinical trials frequently combine histologies although they are different diseases with distinct origins. In the evolving era of personalized medicine and targeted therapies, we hypothesized that ESCC and EAC have genomic differences important for developing new therapeutic strategies for esophageal cancer.
We explored DNA copy number abnormalities (CNAs) in 70 ESCCs with publicly available array data and 189 EAC from our group. All data was from Affymetrix single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays. Analysis was performed with Nexus 5.0 Copy number software using a SNPRank segmentation algorithm. Log ratio thresholds for copy number gain and loss were set at +/− 0.2 (approximately 2.3 and 1.7 copies respectively).
ESCC and EAC genomes showed some CNAs with similar frequencies (e.g., CDKN2A, EGFR, KRAS, MYC, CDK6, MET) but also many CNAs with different frequencies between histologies, most of which were amplification events. Some of these regions harbor genes to which targeted therapies are currently available (VEGFA, ERBB2) or where agents are in clinical trials (PIK3CA, FGFR1). Other regions contain putative oncogenes that may be targeted in the future.
Using SNP arrays we compared genomic abnormalities in a large cohort of EAC and ESCC. We report here the similar and different frequencies of CNAs in ESCC and EAC. These results may allow development of histology-specific therapeutic agents for esophageal cancer.
PMCID: PMC3401935  PMID: 22450065
Esophageal cancer; genetics; genomics

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