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1.  Reproductive factors and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in northern Iran- A case-control study in a high risk area and literature review 
Several epidemiologic studies have suggested an inverse association between female reproductive factors and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), but the evidence is not conclusive. We investigated the association of the number of pregnancies, live-births, and miscarriages/stillbirths in women and the association of the number of children in both sexes with ESCC risk in Golestan Province, a high-risk area in Iran.
Data from 297 histopathologically confirmed ESCC cases (149 women) and 568 controls (290 women) individually matched to cases for age, sex, and neighborhood of residence were included in this analysis. Conditional logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
The average numbers of live-births and miscarriages/stillbirths among controls were 8.2 and 0.8, respectively. Women with 6 or more live-births were at approximately one-third the risk of ESCC as those with 0–3 live-births; the OR (95% CI) for having 6–7 live-births was 0.33 (0.12–0.92). In contrast, the number of miscarriages/stillbirths was associated with an increase in ESCC risk. The OR (95% CI) for ≥ 3 versus no miscarriages/stillbirths was 4.43 (2.11–9.33). The number of children in women was suggestive an inverse association with ESCC, but this association was not statistically significant; in men, no association was seen.
The findings of this study support a protective influence of female hormonal factors on ESCC risk. However, further epidemiological and mechanistic studies are needed to prove a protective association.
PMCID: PMC3731403  PMID: 23238586
case-control study; esophageal cancer; miscarriage; parity; reproductive; squamous cell carcinoma
2.  Measuring telomere length for the early detection of precursor lesions of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:578.
Esophageal cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer death worldwide; current early detection screening tests are inadequate. Esophageal balloon cytology successfully retrieves exfoliated and scraped superficial esophageal epithelial cells, but cytologic reading of these cells has poor sensitivity and specificity for detecting esophageal squamous dysplasia (ESD), the precursor lesion of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). Measuring telomere length, a marker for chromosomal instability, may improve the utility of balloon cytology for detecting ESD and early ESCC.
We examined balloon cytology specimens from 89 asymptomatic cases of ESD (37 low-grade and 52 high-grade) and 92 age- and sex-matched normal controls from an esophageal cancer early detection screening study. All subjects also underwent endoscopy and biopsy, and ESD was diagnosed histopathologically. DNA was extracted from the balloon cytology cells, and telomere length was measured by quantitative PCR. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was plotted for telomere length as a diagnostic marker for high-grade dysplasia.
Telomere lengths were comparable among the low- and high-grade dysplasia cases and controls, with means of 0.96, 0.96, and 0.92, respectively. The area under the ROC curve was 0.55 for telomere length as a diagnostic marker for high-grade dysplasia. Further adjustment for subject characteristics, including sex, age, smoking, drinking, hypertension, and body mass index did not improve the use of telomere length as a marker for ESD.
Telomere length of esophageal balloon cytology cells was not associated with ESCC precursor lesions. Therefore, telomere length shows little promise as an early detection marker for ESCC in esophageal balloon samples.
PMCID: PMC3882883  PMID: 24308314
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Esophageal squamous dysplasia; Early detection; Screening; Balloon cytology; Telomeres
3.  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
4.  Diagnostic and Prognostic Implications of a Serum miRNA Panel in Oesophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92292.
Background and Aim
Circulating microRNAs (miRNAs) are potential biomarkers for cancer detection; however, little is known about their prognostic impact on oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). The current study aims to uncover novel miRNAs for prognostic biomarkers in ESCC patients.
Patients and Methods
We initially screened the expression of 754 serum miRNAs using TaqMan Low Density Array in two pooled samples respectively from 28 ESCC and 28 normal controls. Markedly upregulated miRNAs in ESCC and some miRNAs reported to be differently expressed in ESCC tissue were then validated individually by RT-qPCR in another 83 patients and 83 controls arranged in two phases. The changes of the selected miRNAs during the esophagectomy and their prognostic value were examined.
Seven serum miRNAs were found to be significantly higher in ESCC than in controls; namely, miR-25, miR-100, miR-193-3p, miR-194, miR-223, miR-337-5p and miR-483-5p (P<0.0001), and the area under the receiver-operating-characteristic (ROC) curve (AUC) for the seven-miRNA panel was 0.83 (95% CI 0.75–0.90). Most of these miRNAs declined markedly in postoperative samples versus preoperative samples (P<0.05). Moreover, high level of miR-25 was significantly correlated with shorter overall survival in patients (P = 0.027). Cox regression analysis identified lymph node metastasis, miR-25 and miR-100 as the independent risk factors for overall survival (hazard ratio (HR) 2.98 [1.36–6.55], P = 0.006; HR 3.84 [1.02–14.41], P = 0.029; HR 4.18 [1.21–14.50], P = 0.024, respectively).
The seven serum miRNAs could potentially serve as novel biomarkers for ESCC; moreover, specific miRNAs such as miR-25 and miR-100 can predict poor survival in ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3961321  PMID: 24651474
5.  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
6.  Epigenetic, Genetic and Environmental Interactions in Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma from Northeast India 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60996.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) develops as a result of complex epigenetic, genetic and environmental interactions. Epigenetic changes like, promoter hypermethylation of multiple tumour suppressor genes are frequent events in cancer, and certain habit-related carcinogens are thought to be capable of inducing aberrant methylation. However, the effects of environmental carcinogens depend upon the level of metabolism by carcinogen metabolizing enzymes. As such key interactions between habits related factors and carcinogen metabolizing gene polymorphisms towards modulating promoter methylation of genes are likely. However, this remains largely unexplored in ESCC. Here, we studied the interaction of various habits related factors and polymorphism of GSTM1/GSTT1 genes towards inducing promoter hypermethylation of multiple tumour suppressor genes.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The study included 112 ESCC cases and 130 age and gender matched controls. Conditional logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios (OR) and multifactor dimensionality reduction (MDR) was used to explore high order interactions. Tobacco chewing and smoking were the major individual risk factors of ESCC after adjusting for all potential confounding factors. With regards to methylation status, significantly higher methylation frequencies were observed in tobacco chewers than non chewers for all the four genes under study (p<0.01). In logistic regression analysis, betel quid chewing, alcohol consumption and null GSTT1 genotypes imparted maximum risk for ESCC without promoter hypermethylation. Whereas, tobacco chewing, smoking and GSTT1 null variants were the most important risk factors for ESCC with promoter hypermethylation. MDR analysis revealed two predictor models for ESCC with promoter hypermethylation (Tobacco chewing/Smoking/Betel quid chewing/GSTT1 null) and ESCC without promoter hypermethylation (Betel quid chewing/Alcohol/GSTT1) with TBA of 0.69 and 0.75 respectively and CVC of 10/10 in both models.
Our study identified a possible interaction between tobacco consumption and carcinogen metabolizing gene polymorphisms towards modulating promoter methylation of tumour suppressor genes in ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3626640  PMID: 23596512
7.  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
8.  Association Between Gene Expression of Metabolizing Enzymes and Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinomas in China 
Epidemiological studies have indicated that the incidence of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is associated with environmental exposure to mutagens and carcinogens. To determine whether the basal expression level of genes involved in metabolism of carcinogens is associated with the risk of ESCC, a case–control study of 100 patients with newly diagnosed, untreated ESCC and 117 healthy controls was performed, and the relative expression levels of four metabolism genes (CYP2E1, GSTP1, MTHFR, and NQO1) were determined with quantitative real-time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Analyzed with the mean of relative expression level in the controls as the cut-off point, the result exhibited that the increased risk for ESCC was significantly associated with reduced expression of GSTP1 (odds ratio [OR]=3.644, 95% confidence interval [CI: 1.947–6.823) and NQO1 (OR=1.870, 95% CI: 1.046–3.345). When adjusted for age, sex, smoking status, and alcohol use, the increased risk for ESCC was significantly associated with reduced expression of GSTP1, MTHFR, and NQO1, and GSTP1 mRNA showed a steady association with the risk for ESCC (OR=2.640) in the model of stepwise regression analysis. Reduced expression of GSTP1 in PBMCs was significantly associated with the risk for ESCC, suggesting an important etiology clue to the early progression of ESCC in the Huaian population of China.
PMCID: PMC3468122  PMID: 22853296
9.  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
10.  Macronutrients, vitamins and minerals intake and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma: a case-control study in Iran 
Nutrition Journal  2011;10:137.
Although Iran is a high-risk region for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), dietary factors that may contribute to this high incidence have not been thoroughly studied. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of macronutrients, vitamins and minerals on the risk of ESCC.
In this hospital-based case-control study, 47 cases with incident ESCC and 96 controls were interviewed and usual dietary intakes were collected using a validated food frequency questionnaire. Data were modeled through unconditional multiple logistic regression to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI), controlling for age, sex, gastrointestinal reflux, body mass index, smoking history (status, intensity and duration), physical activity, and education.
ESCC cases consumed significantly more hot foods and beverages and fried and barbecued meals, compared to the controls (p < 0.05). After adjusting for potential confounders, the risk of ESCC increased significantly in the highest tertiles of saturated fat [OR:2.88,95%CI:1.15-3.08], cholesterol [OR:1.53, 95%CI: 1.41-4.13], discretionary calorie [OR:1.51, 95%CI: 1.06-3.84], sodium [OR:1.49,95%CI:1.12-2.89] and total fat intakes [OR:1.48, 95%CI:1.09-3.04]. In contrast, being in the highest tertile of carbohydrate, dietary fiber and (n-3) fatty acid intake reduced the ESCC risk by 78%, 71% and 68%, respectively. The most cancer-protective effect was observed for the combination of high folate and vitamin E intakes (OR: 0.02, 95%CI: 0.00-0.87; p < 0.001). Controls consumed 623.5 times higher selenium, 5.48 times as much β-carotene and 1.98 times as much α-tocopherol as the amount ESCC cases consumed.
This study suggests that high intake of nutrients primarily found in plant-based foods is associated with a reduced esophageal cancer risk. Some nutrients such as folate, vitamin E and selenium might play major roles in the etiology of ESCC and their status may eventually be used as an epidemiological marker for esophageal cancer in Iran, and perhaps other high-risk regions.
PMCID: PMC3260093  PMID: 22185224
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; macronutrients; vitamins; minerals; Iran
11.  Poor oral hygiene and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in Kashmir 
British Journal of Cancer  2013;109(5):1367-1372.
Several studies have suggested an association between poor oral health and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). We conducted a case-control study in Kashmir, a region with relatively high incidence of ESCC in north India, to investigate the association between oral hygiene and ESCC risk.
We recruited 703 histologically confirmed ESCC cases, and 1664 controls individually matched to the cases for age, sex, and district of residence. Conditional logistic regression models were used to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
We found an inverse association between teeth cleaning and ESCC risk. As compared with never cleaning teeth, the OR (95% CI) was 0.41 (0.28–0.62) for cleaning less than daily and 0.44 (0.25–0.77) for cleaning at least once a day (P for trend=0.026) in models adjusted for multiple potential confounders, including several indicators of socioeconomic status. This association persisted after we limited our analyses to never tobacco users. The inverse association between cleaning teeth and ESCC was stronger with using brushes than with using sticks/fingers. We also found an association between the number of decayed, filled, and missing teeth and ESCC risk, but the trend of the associations was not statistically significant. Avoiding solid food and cold beverages because of teeth and oral problems were also associated with ESCC risk.
We found an association between poor oral hygiene indicators and ESCC risk, supporting the previous studies that showed the same associations.
PMCID: PMC3778293  PMID: 23900216
esophageal cancer; oral health; dental hygiene; tooth loss; Kashmir
12.  Risk factors for oesophageal squamous dysplasia in adult inhabitants of a high risk region of China 
Gut  2005;54(6):759-763.
Background: Oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is a common cancer worldwide and has a very high mortality rate. Squamous dysplasia is the precursor lesion for OSCC and it can be seen during routine endoscopy with Lugol’s iodine staining. We aimed to examine the risk factors for squamous dysplasia and determine if a risk model could be constructed which would be useful in selecting apparently healthy subjects for endoscopic screening in a high risk population in Linzhou, People’s Republic of China.
Subjects and methods: In this cross sectional study, 724 adult volunteers aged 40–65 years were enrolled. All subjects completed a questionnaire regarding potential environmental exposures, received physical and dental examinations, and underwent upper endoscopy with Lugol’s iodine staining and biopsy. Subjects were categorised as having or not having histologically proven squamous dysplasia/early cancer. Risk factors for dysplasia were examined using univariate and multivariate logistic regression. The utility of the final multivariate model as a screening tool was assessed using a receiver operating characteristics curve.
Results: We found that 230 of 720 subjects (32%) with complete data had prevalent squamous dysplasia. In the final multivariate model, more household members (odds ratio (OR) 1.12/member (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.99, 1.25)), a family history of cancer (OR 1.57 (95% CI 1.13-2.18)), higher systolic blood pressure OR 1.11/10 mm Hg (95% CI 1.03-1.19)), heating the home without a chimney (OR 2.22 (95% CI 1.27–3.86)), and having lost more but not all of your teeth (OR 1.91 for 12–31 teeth lost (95% CI 1.17–3.15)) were associated with higher odds of having dysplasia. Higher household income (OR 0.96/100 RMB (95% CI 0.91–1.00)) was associated with a lower odds of having dysplasia. Although we found several statistically significant associations, the final model had little ability to accurately predict dysplasia status, with maximum simultaneous sensitivity and specificity values of 57% and 54%, respectively.
Conclusions: We found that risk factors for dysplasia were similar to those previously identified as risk factors for OSCC in this population. The final model did a poor job of identifying subjects who had squamous dysplasia. Other methods will need to be developed to triage individuals to endoscopy in this high risk population.
PMCID: PMC1774536  PMID: 15888779
oesophageal cancer; dysplasia; tooth loss; cancer screening; China
13.  Prognostic Factors for Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma—A Population-Based Study in Golestan Province, Iran, a High Incidence Area 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22152.
Golestan Province in northern Iran is an area with a high incidence of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). We aimed to investigate prognostic factors for ESCC and survival of cases in Golestan, on which little data were available. We followed-up 426 ESCC cases participating in a population-based case-control study. Data were analyzed using the Kaplan–Meier method and the Cox proportional hazard models. Median survival was 7 months. Age at diagnosis was inversely associated with survival, but the association was disappeared with adjustment for treatment. Residing in urban areas (hazard ratio, HR = 0.70; 95% CI 0.54–0.90) and being of non-Turkmen ethnic groups (HR = 0.76; 95% CI 0.61–0.96) were associated with better prognosis. In contrast to other types of tobacco use, nass (a smokeless tobacco product) chewing was associated with a slightly poorer prognosis even in models adjusted for other factors including stage of disease and treatment (HR = 1.38; 95% CI 0.99–1.92). Opium use was associated with poorer prognosis in crude analyses but not in adjusted models. Almost all of potentially curative treatments were associated with longer survival. Prognosis of ESCC in Golestan is very poor. Easier access to treatment facilities may improve the prognosis of ESCC in Golestan. The observed association between nass chewing and poorer prognosis needs further investigations; this association may suggest a possible role for ingestion of nass constituents in prognosis of ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3141005  PMID: 21811567
14.  Downregulation of 14-3-3σ Correlates with Multistage Carcinogenesis and Poor Prognosis of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95386.
The asymptomatic nature of early-stage esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) results in late presentation and consequent dismal prognosis This study characterized 14-3-3σ protein expression in the multi-stage development of ESCC and determined its correlation with clinical features and prognosis.
Materials and Methods
Western blot was used to examine 14-3-3σ protein expression in normal esophageal epithelium (NEE), low grade intraepithelial neoplasia (LGIN), high grade intraepithelial neoplasia (HGIN), ESCC of TNM I to IV stage and various esophageal epithelial cell lines with different biological behavior. Immunohistochemistry was used to estimate 14-3-3σ protein in 110 biopsy samples of NEE, LGIN or HGIN and in 168 ESCC samples all of whom had follow-up data. Support vector machine (SVM) was used to develop a classifier for prognosis.
14-3-3σ decreased progressively from NEE to LGIN, to HGIN, and to ESCC. Chemoresistant sub-lines of EC9706/PTX and EC9706/CDDP showed high expression of 14-3-3σ protein compared with non-chemoresistant ESCC cell lines and immortalized NEC. Furthermore, the downregulation of 14-3-3σ correlated significantly with histological grade (P = 0.000) and worse prognosis (P = 0.004). Multivariate Cox regression analysis indicated that 14-3-3σ protein (P = 0.016) and T stage (P = 0.000) were independent prognostic factors for ESCC. The SVM ESCC classifier comprising sex, age, T stage, histological grade, lymph node metastasis, clinical stage and 14-3-3σ, distinguished significantly lower- and higher-risk ESCC patients (91.67% vs. 3.62%, P = 0.000).
Downregulation of 14-3-3σ arises early in the development of ESCC and predicts poor survival, suggesting that 14-3-3σ may be a biomarker for early detection of high-risk subjects and diagnosis of ESCC. Our seven-feature SVM classifier for ESCC prognosis may help to inform clinical decisions and tailor individual therapy.
PMCID: PMC3990633  PMID: 24743601
15.  Tooth loss and lack of regular oral hygiene are associated with higher risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
We tested the association between tooth loss and oral hygiene and the risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in people living in a high risk area of Iran. We used a case-control study of pathologically-confirmed ESCC cases (N=283) and controls (N=560) matched on sex, age, and neighborhood. Subjects with ESCC had significantly more decayed, missing, or filled teeth with a median (interquartile range) of 31 (23-32) compared to controls 28 (2-32) (P=0.0045). And subjects with ESCC were significantly more likely than controls to fail to practice regular oral hygiene, 78% versus 58%. In multivariate adjusted conditional logistic regression models having 32 decayed, missing, or filled teeth compared to ≤15 conferred an OR (95% CI) of 2.10 (1.19-3.70). Compared to daily tooth brushing, practicing no regular oral hygiene conferred an OR (95% CI) of 2.37 (1.42-3.97). Restricting the analysis to subjects that had never smoked tobacco did not materially alter these results. We found significant associations between two markers of poor oral hygiene, a larger number of decayed, missing, or filled teeth and lack of daily tooth brushing, and risk of ESCC in a population at high risk for ESCC where many cases occur in never smokers. Our results are consistent with several previous analyses in other high risk populations.
PMCID: PMC2586052  PMID: 18990747
Tooth loss; tooth brushing; esophagus; squamous; cancer
16.  Multi-susceptibility genes associated with the risk of the development stages of esophageal squamous cell cancer in Feicheng County 
BMC Gastroenterology  2011;11:74.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association of multi-genotype polymorphisms with the stepwise progression of esophageal squamous cell cancer (ESCC) and the possibility of predicting those at higher risk.
A total of 1,004 subjects were recruited from Feicheng County, China, between Jan. 2004 and Dec. 2007 and examined by endoscopy for esophageal lesions. These subjects included 270 patients with basal cell hyperplasia (BCH), 262 patients with esophageal squamous cell dysplasia (ESCD), 226 patients with ESCC, and 246 controls with Lugol-voiding area but diagnosed as having normal esophageal squamous epithelial cells by histopathology. The genotypes for CYP2E1 G1259C, hOGG1 C326G, MTHFR C677T, MPO G463A, and ALDH2 allele genes were identified in blood samples collected from all participants.
The alleles ALDH2 and MTHFR C677T were critical for determining individual susceptibility to esophageal cancer. Compared to the ALDH 1*1 genotype, the ALDH 2*2 genotype was significantly associated with increased risks of BCH, ESCD, and ESCC. However, the TT genotype of MTHFR C677T only increased the risk of ESCC. Further analysis revealed that the combination of the high-risk genotypes 2*2/1*2 of ALDH 2 and TT/TC of MTHFR C677T increased the risk of BCH by 4.0 fold, of ESCD by 3.7 fold, and ESSC by 8.72 fold. The generalized odds ratio (ORG) of the two combined genotypes was 1.83 (95%CI: 1.55-2.16), indicating a strong genetic association with the risk of carcinogenic progression in the esophagus.
The study demonstrated that the genotypes ALDH2*2 and MTHFR 677TT conferred elevated risk for developing esophageal carcinoma and that the two susceptibility genotypes combined to synergistically increase the risk.
PMCID: PMC3141752  PMID: 21672255
17.  Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations and expression in squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus in central Asia 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:602.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) shows geographic variations in incidence, with high incidences (>50/105 person-years) in central Asia, including North Eastern Iran (Golestan) and Northern India (Kashmir). In contrast to Western countries, smoking does not appear to be a significant risk factor for ESCC in central Asia. In lung adenocarcinoma, activating mutations in the gene encoding epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) are frequent in tumors of never smokers of Asian origin, predicting therapeutic sensitivity to Egfr-targeting drugs.
In this study 152 cases of histologically confirmed ESCC from Iran (Tehran and Golestan Province) and North India (Kashmir Valley) have been analyzed for EGFR mutation by direct sequencing of exons 18–21. Egfr protein expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 34 samples from Tehran and HER2 mutations were analyzed in 54 cases from Kashmir.
A total of 14 (9.2%) EGFR variations were detected, including seven variations in exons. Among those, four (2.6%) were already documented in lung cancers, two were reported as polymorphisms and one was a potentially new activating mutation. All but one variation in introns were previously identified as polymorphisms. Over-expression of Egfr was detected in 22/34 (65%) of tested cases whereas no HER2 mutation was found in 54 cases from Kashmir.
Overall, EGFR mutations appear to be a rare event in ESCC in high incidence areas of central Asia, although a very small proportion of cases may harbor mutations predicting sensitivity to anti-Egfr drugs.
PMCID: PMC3543241  PMID: 23244191
Squamous cell carcinoma; Esophagus; EGFR mutations; Golestan; Kashmir
18.  Opium, tobacco, and alcohol use in relation to oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma in a high-risk area of Iran 
British Journal of Cancer  2008;98(11):1857-1863.
The very high incidence of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in Golestan Province in northeastern Iran was suggested by studies in the 1970s as partly due to opium use, which is not uncommon in this area, but based on limited numbers. From December 2003 to June 2007, we administered a validated structured questionnaire to 300 ESCC cases and 571 controls, matched on neighbourhood of residence, age (±2 years), and sex. We used conditional logistic regression models to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) adjusted for potential confounders. Compared with those who used neither tobacco nor opium, risk of ESCC was increased in those who used tobacco only (OR, 95% CI: 1.70, 1.05–2.73), in those who used opium only (2.12, 1.21–3.74), and in those who used both tobacco and opium (2.35, 1.50–3.67). All forms of tobacco use (cigarettes, hookah, and nass) were associated with higher ESCC risk. Similarly, use of both crude opium and other forms of opium were associated with higher risk. Alcohol consumption was seen in only 2% of the cases and 2% of the controls, and was not associated with ESCC risk.
PMCID: PMC2410115  PMID: 18475303
oesophageal cancer; Iran; opium; tobacco; alcohol
19.  Genetic variants in sex hormone metabolic pathway genes and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Carcinogenesis  2013;34(5):1062-1068.
In China, esophageal cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death where essentially all cases are histologically esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), in contrast to esophageal adenocarcinoma in the West. Globally, ESCC is 2.4 times more common among men than women and recently it has been suggested that sex hormones may be associated with the risk of ESCC. We examined the association between genetic variants in sex hormone metabolic genes and ESCC risk in a population from north central China with high-incidence rates. A total of 1026 ESCC cases and 1452 controls were genotyped for 797 unique tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 51 sex hormone metabolic genes. SNP-, gene- and pathway-based associations with ESCC risk were evaluated using unconditional logistic regression adjusted for age, sex and geographical location and the adaptive rank truncated product (ARTP) method. Statistical significance was determined through use of permutation for pathway- and gene-based associations. No associations were observed for the overall sex hormone metabolic pathway (P = 0.14) or subpathways (androgen synthesis: P = 0.30, estrogen synthesis: P = 0.15 and estrogen removal: P = 0.19) with risk of ESCC. However, six individual genes (including SULT2B1, CYP1B1, CYP3A7, CYP3A5, SHBG and CYP11A1) were significantly associated with ESCC risk (P < 0.05). Our examination of genetic variation in the sex hormone metabolic pathway is consistent with a potential association with risk of ESCC. These positive findings warrant further evaluation in relation to ESCC risk and replication in other populations.
PMCID: PMC3643422  PMID: 23358850
20.  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
21.  Serum pepsinogens and risk of esophageal squamous dysplasia 
Pepsinogens are a class of endopeptidases that are secreted by the gastric epithelium and released into the circulation. Low serum pepsinogen I (PGI) and low serum pepsinogen I / pepsinogen II ratio (PGI/II ratio) are markers of gastric fundic atrophy, and have recently been shown to be associated with increased risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). We conducted the current study to test whether these markers are also associated with esophageal squamous dysplasia (ESD), the precursor lesion of ESCC.
We measured serum PGI and PGII, using enzyme-linked immunosorbent (ELISA) assays, in 125 case subjects (patients with moderate or severe ESD) and 250 sex-matched control subjects (no ESD) selected from an endoscopic screening study in Linxian, China. We used conditional logistic regression models adjusted for age, smoking, and place of residence to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs).
Serum PGI showed no statistically significant association with ESD, whether analyzed as a dichotomous, ordinal (quartiles), or continuous variable. Lower serum PGI/II ratio, however, showed a dose-response association with increased risk of ESD, with an adjusted OR (95% CI) of 2.12 (1.08 − 4.18), comparing the lowest versus the highest quartile. The association between lower serum PGI/II ratio and log OR of ESD was nearly linear, and the p-value for the continuous association was 0.03.
Lower serum PGI/II ratio was linearly associated with higher risk of ESD. This result is consistent with recent findings that gastric atrophy may increase the risk of ESCC.
PMCID: PMC2605159  PMID: 18844222
Esophageal cancer; Squamous dysplasia; Pepsinogen; China
22.  Autoantibodies against MMP-7 as a novel diagnostic biomarker in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
AIM: To evaluate the diagnostic values of serum autoantibodies against matrix metalloproteinase-7 (MMP-7) in patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC).
METHODS: The MMP-7 cDNA was cloned from ESCC tissues, and MMP-7 was expressed and purified from a prokaryotic system. MMP-7 autoantibodies were then measured in sera from 50 patients with primary ESCC and 58 risk-matched controls, using a reverse capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in which autoantibodies to MMP-7 bound to the purified MMP-7 proteins. In addition, MMP-7 autoantibody levels in sera from 38 gastric cancer patients and from control serum samples were also tested.
RESULTS: The optimum conditions for recombinant MMP-7 protein expression were determined as 0.04 mmol/L Isopropyl-β-D-Thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG) induction at 37°C for four hours. The levels of serum autoantibodies against MMP-7 were significantly higher in patients with ESCC than in the matched-control samples (OD450 = 1.69 ± 0.08 vs OD450 = 1.55 ± 0.10, P < 0.001). The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was 0.87. The sensitivity and specificity for detection of ESCC were 78.0% and 81.0%, respectively, when the OD450 value was greater than 1.65. Although the levels of autoantibodies against MMP-7 were also significantly higher in patients with gastric cancer compared to control samples (OD450 = 1.62 ± 0.06 vs OD450 = 1.55 ± 0.10, P < 0.001), the diagnostic accuracy was less significant than in ESCC patients. The area of ROC curve was 0.75, whereas the sensitivity and specificity were 60.5% and 71.7%, respectively, when the cut-off value of OD450 was set at 1.60.
CONCLUSION: Serum autoantibody levels of MMP-7 may be a good diagnostic biomarker for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC3068276  PMID: 21455340
Matrix metalloproteinase-7; Serum autoantibody; Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Gastric cancer; Biomarker
23.  Genetic Variant rs401681 at 5p15.33 Modifies Susceptibility to Lung Cancer but Not Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84277.
The human 5p15.33 locus contains two well-known genes, the telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) and cleft lip and palate transmembrane 1-like (CLPTM1L) genes, which have been implicated in carcinogenesis. A common sequence variant, rs401681, located in an intronic region of CLPTM1L, has been reported to be associated with lung cancer risk based on genome-wide association study. However, subsequent replication studies in diverse populations have yielded inconsistent results. In addition, genetic variants at 5p15.33, including rs401681, have been shown to be involved in the susceptibility to multiple malignancies. Nevertheless, the role of these TERT-CLPTM1L variants in the etiology of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) remains unknown.
We genotyped the rs401681 polymorphism using TaqMan methodology and analyzed its association with the risk of lung cancer and ESCC in a case–control study of 1,479 cancer patients (726 with lung cancer and 753 with ESCC) and 860 healthy individuals.
Logistic regression analyses revealed that rs401681 T genotypes were associated with a significantly decreased risk of lung cancer (CT vs. CC: adjusted OR = 0.782, 95% CI = 0.625–0.978, P = 0.031; CT/TT vs. CC: adjusted OR = 0.786; 95% CI = 0.635–0.972, P = 0.026). Stratification analysis by histology type indicated that rs401681 T genotypes were associated with a significantly reduced risk of both adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Furthermore, no significant association was observed between rs401681 and the risk of ESCC (CT vs. CC: adjusted OR = 0.910, 95% CI = 0.734–1.129, P = 0.392; TT vs. CC: adjusted OR = 0.897, 95%CI = 0.624–1.290, P = 0.558; CT/TT vs. CC: adjusted OR = 0.908, 95% CI = 0.740–1.114, P = 0.355).
Our findings provide further evidence supporting rs401681 as a genetic variant associated with the risk of lung cancer. In addition, we investigated the correlation between the rs401681 variant and the risk of ESCC in a Han Chinese population, and our results suggest that this genetic variant may not be involved in ESCC risk.
PMCID: PMC3875515  PMID: 24386361
24.  Human papillomavirus in squamous cell carcinoma of esophagus in a high-risk population 
AIM: To investigate the relation of human papillomavirus (HPV) and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in Iranian patients as compared to normal controls.
METHODS: Using MY09/MY11 consensus primers, we compared the prevalence of a HPV L1 gene in tumor tissues from 38 ESCC cases and biopsied tissues from 38 endoscopically normal Iranian individuals. We also compared the presence of HPV16 and HPV18 in the same samples using type-specific E6/E7 primers.
RESULTS: Fourteen (36.8%) of the 38 ESCC samples but only 5 (13.2%) of the 38 control samples were positive for the HPV L1 gene (P = 0.02). Five (13.2%) of the ESCC samples but none of the control samples were positive for the HPV16 E6/E7 gene (P = 0.05). Three (7.9%) of the ESCC samples and 5 (13.2%) of the control samples were positive for the HPV18 E6/E7 gene (P = 0.71).
CONCLUSION: Our data are consistent with HPV DNA studies conducted in other high-risk areas for ESCC. HPV should be considered as a potential factor contributing to the high incidence of ESCC in Iran and other high-incidence areas of the world.
PMCID: PMC4250714  PMID: 15754405
Papillomavirus; Squamous cell carcinoma of esophagus; Population
25.  A Meta-Analysis of the Association between the hOGG1 Ser326Cys Polymorphism and the Risk of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65742.
Genetic polymorphism of human 8-oxoguanine glycosylase 1 (hOGG1) Ser326Cys (rs1052133) has been implicated in the risk of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma (ESCC). However, the published findings are inconsistent. We therefore performed a meta-analysis to derive a more precise estimation of the association between the hOGG1 Ser326Cys polymorphism and ESCC risk.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A comprehensive search was conducted to identify eligible studies of hOGG1 Ser326Cys polymorphism and the risk of the ESCC. Three English and two Chinese databases were used, and ten published case-control studies, including 1987 cases and 2926 controls were identified. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were used to assess the strength of the association in the dominant and recessive model. Pearson correlation coefficient (PCC) and standard error (SE) were used to assess the number of Cys allele and ESCC risk in the additive model. Overall, significant associations between the hOGG1 Ser326Cys polymorphism and ESCC risk were found in the recessive model: OR = 1.37 (95% CI: 1.06–1.76, p = 0.02). We also observed significant associations in the Caucasian, Chinese language, population based control and tissue subgroups. In the additive model, positive correlation was found between the number of Cys allele and the risk of ESCC in overall studies (PCC = 0.109, SE = 0.046, p = 0.02), Caucasian subgroup and population subgroup. Funnel plot and Egger's test indicate there was no publication bias in this meta-analysis.
Under the published data, the hOGG1 Ser326Cys polymorphism is associated with ESCC risk in the recessive and additive model. Compared with the Ser/Ser and Ser/Cys genotype, Cys/Cys genotype might contribute to increased risk of ESCC. And the risk of ESCC is positively correlated with the number of Cys allele. A better case-control matched study should be designed in order to provide a more precise estimation.
PMCID: PMC3675068  PMID: 23762419

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