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1.  Dysplastic Nevi and Melanoma 
Dysplastic nevi (DN) are described as being on a continuum between common acquired nevi and melanoma because they are morphologically and biologically intermediate between these two entities. Since initially being reported as histologic lesions observed in melanoma-prone families, there has been considerable debate about the definition of dysplastic nevi, the histologic and clinical criteria used to define them, and their biological importance. Their role as precursor lesions for melanoma is not their primary role in their relationship to melanoma because of the rarity of transformation of any individual nevus to a melanoma. Although there is still no single universally agreed upon histologic or clinical definition or even name for these nevi, dysplastic nevi should be considered important because of their association with an increased risk for melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3616416  PMID: 23549396
2.  Genome-wide Association Study Identifies Two Susceptibility Loci for Osteosarcoma 
Nature genetics  2013;45(7):799-803.
Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone malignancy of adolescents and young adults. In order to better understand the genetic etiology of osteosarcoma, we performed a multi-stage genome-wide association study (GWAS) consisting of 941 cases and 3,291 cancer-free adult controls of European ancestry. Two loci achieved genome-wide significance: rs1906953 at 6p21.3, in the glutamate receptor metabotropic 4 [GRM4] gene (P = 8.1 ×10-9), and rs7591996 and rs10208273 in a gene desert on 2p25.2 (P = 1.0 ×10-8 and 2.9 ×10-7). These two susceptibility loci warrant further exploration to uncover the biological mechanisms underlying susceptibility to osteosarcoma.
PMCID: PMC3910497  PMID: 23727862
4.  The association between cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2012;24(1):55-60.
Increasing evidence suggests that some neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, are inversely related to cancer. Few epidemiologic studies have examined the relationship between cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), another major neurodegenerative disease. This study addresses that gap.
Using data from 16 population-based cancer registries of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program of the U.S. National Cancer Institute and death certificates, we followed 2.7 million cancer survivors who were diagnosed between 1973 and 2007, and who survived at least 1 year following cancer diagnosis. The standardized mortality ratio (SMR) of observed to expected ALS deaths in cancer survivors was calculated.
A total of 1,216 ALS deaths were reported among 1 year survivors of cancer over 16.6 million person-years of follow-up. ALS mortality was not significantly associated with the incidence of total cancers [SMR = 1.00 (95 % confidence interval (CI), 0.95–1.06)]. There was, however, a significantly elevated risk of ALS death among survivors of melanoma [SMR = 1.49 (95 % (CI), 1.17–1.85)] and of tongue cancer [SMR = 2.57 (95 % CI, 1.41–4.32)], and a significantly reduced ALS death risk among prostate cancer survivors [SMR = 0.86 (95 % CI, 0.76–0.96)].
Cancer at certain sites may be related to risk of ALS death. Possible biologic factors linking ALS to these cancers are discussed. Future studies should attempt to confirm these associations using incident ALS outcomes. Establishing relationships between cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS, opens new opportunities for understanding related pathophysiologic and therapeutic possibilities for these diseases.
PMCID: PMC3529829  PMID: 23090035
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Neoplasms; Melanoma; Tongue neoplasms; Prostatic neoplasms
5.  Absolute Risk Prediction of Second Primary Thyroid Cancer Among 5-Year Survivors of Childhood Cancer 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;31(1):119-127.
We developed three absolute risk models for second primary thyroid cancer to assist with long-term clinical monitoring of childhood cancer survivors.
Patients and Methods
We used data from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS) and two nested case-control studies (Nordic CCSS; Late Effects Study Group). Model M1 included self-reported risk factors, model M2 added basic radiation and chemotherapy treatment information abstracted from medical records, and model M3 refined M2 by incorporating reconstructed radiation absorbed dose to the thyroid. All models were validated in an independent cohort of French childhood cancer survivors.
M1 included birth year, initial cancer type, age at diagnosis, sex, and past thyroid nodule diagnosis. M2 added radiation (yes/no), radiation to the neck (yes/no), and alkylating agent (yes/no). Past thyroid nodule was consistently the strongest risk factor (M1 relative risk [RR], 10.8; M2 RR, 6.8; M3 RR, 8.2). In the validation cohort, 20-year absolute risk predictions for second primary thyroid cancer ranged from 0.04% to 7.4% for M2. Expected events agreed well with observed events for each model, indicating good calibration. All models had good discriminatory ability (M1 area under the receiver operating characteristics curve [AUC], 0.71; 95% CI, 0.64 to 0.77; M2 AUC, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.73 to 0.86; M3 AUC, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.69 to 0.82).
We developed and validated three absolute risk models for second primary thyroid cancer. Model M2, with basic prior treatment information, could be useful for monitoring thyroid cancer risk in childhood cancer survivors.
PMCID: PMC3530689  PMID: 23169509
6.  Effect of mutations in XPD(ERCC2) on pregnancy and prenatal development in mothers of patients with trichothiodystrophy or xeroderma pigmentosum 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2012;20(12):1308-1310.
The XPD(ERCC2) gene encodes a DNA helicase involved in DNA repair and transcription. Patients with mutations in XPD may have different autosomal recessive phenotypes including trichothiodystrophy (TTD) or xeroderma pigmentosum (XP). TTD patients have sulfur-deficient, brittle hair, short stature and developmental delay. In contrast, XP patients have freckle-like pigmentation and a greatly increased risk of sun-induced skin cancers. Mothers of TTD patients have been reported to have a high frequency of pregnancy and neonatal complications. We performed a molecular epidemiological study of 15 mothers of 17 TTD patients and 13 mothers of 17 XP patients, all with XPD mutations. We found that 94% (16/17) of the TTD pregnancies had pre-term delivery, pre-eclampsia, hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelets (HELLP) syndrome, prematurity or low birth weight. None of the 17 XP pregnancies had these complications (P<0.001). As mutations in XPD may have differential effects on DNA repair and transcription, these observations should provide insights into the role of XPD in human pregnancy and fetal development.
PMCID: PMC3499748  PMID: 22617342
DNA repair; pre-eclampsia; transcription factor IIH
7.  A Pooled Analysis of Thyroid Cancer Incidence Following Radiotherapy for Childhood Cancer 
Radiation research  2012;178(4):365-376.
Childhood cancer five-year survival now exceeds 70–80%. Childhood exposure to radiation is a known thyroid carcinogen; however, data are limited for the evaluation of radiation dose-response at high doses, modifiers of the dose-response relationship and joint effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. To address these issues, we pooled two cohort and two nested case-control studies of childhood cancer survivors including 16,757 patients, with 187 developing primary thyroid cancer. Relative risks (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) for thyroid cancer by treatment with alkylating agents, anthracyclines or bleomycin were 3.25 (0.9–14.9), 4.5 (1.4–17.8) and 3.2 (0.8–10.4), respectively, in patients without radiotherapy, and declined with greater radiation dose (RR trends, P = 0.02, 0.12 and 0.01, respectively). Radiation dose-related RRs increased approximately linearly for <10 Gy, leveled off at 10–15-fold for 10–30 Gy and then declined, but remained elevated for doses >50 Gy. The fitted RR at 10 Gy was 13.7 (95% CI: 8.0–24.0). Dose-related excess RRs increased with decreasing age at exposure (P < 0.01), but did not vary with attained age or time-since-exposure, remaining elevated 25+ years after exposure. Gender and number of treatments did not modify radiation effects. Thyroid cancer risks remained elevated many decades following radiotherapy, highlighting the need for continued follow up of childhood cancer survivors.
PMCID: PMC3488851  PMID: 22857014
8.  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
9.  Telomere Length and the Risk of Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma in Melanoma-Prone Families with and without CDKN2A Mutations 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71121.
Recent evidence suggests a link between constitutional telomere length (TL) and cancer risk. Previous studies have suggested that longer telomeres were associated with an increased risk of melanoma and larger size and number of nevi. The goal of this study was to examine whether TL modified the risk of melanoma in melanoma-prone families with and without CDKN2A germline mutations.
Materials and Methods
We measured TL in blood DNA in 119 cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) cases and 208 unaffected individuals. We also genotyped 13 tagging SNPs in TERT.
We found that longer telomeres were associated with an increased risk of CMM (adjusted OR = 2.81, 95% CI = 1.02–7.72, P = 0.04). The association of longer TL with CMM risk was seen in CDKN2A- cases but not in CDKN2A+ cases. Among CMM cases, the presence of solar injury was associated with shorter telomeres (P = 0.002). One SNP in TERT, rs2735940, was significantly associated with TL (P = 0.002) after Bonferroni correction.
Our findings suggest that TL regulation could be variable by CDKN2A mutation status, sun exposure, and pigmentation phenotype. Therefore, TL measurement alone may not be a good marker for predicting CMM risk.
PMCID: PMC3747185  PMID: 23990928
10.  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
11.  Impact of occupational carcinogens on lung cancer risk in a general population 
Background Exposure to occupational carcinogens is an important preventable cause of lung cancer. Most of the previous studies were in highly exposed industrial cohorts. Our aim was to quantify lung cancer burden attributable to occupational carcinogens in a general population.
Methods We applied a new job–exposure matrix (JEM) to translate lifetime work histories, collected by personal interview and coded into standard job titles, into never, low and high exposure levels for six known/suspected occupational lung carcinogens in the Environment and Genetics in Lung cancer Etiology (EAGLE) population-based case–control study, conducted in Lombardy region, Italy, in 2002–05. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated in men (1537 cases and 1617 controls), by logistic regression adjusted for potential confounders, including smoking and co-exposure to JEM carcinogens. The population attributable fraction (PAF) was estimated as impact measure.
Results Men showed an increased lung cancer risk even at low exposure to asbestos (OR: 1.76; 95% CI: 1.42–2.18), crystalline silica (OR: 1.31; 95% CI: 1.00–1.71) and nickel–chromium (OR: 1.18; 95% CI: 0.90–1.53); risk increased with exposure level. For polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, an increased risk (OR: 1.64; 95% CI: 0.99–2.70) was found only for high exposures. The PAFs for any exposure to asbestos, silica and nickel–chromium were 18.1, 5.7 and 7.0%, respectively, equivalent to an overall PAF of 22.5% (95% CI: 14.1–30.0). This corresponds to about 1016 (95% CI: 637–1355) male lung cancer cases/year in Lombardy.
Conclusions These findings support the substantial role of selected occupational carcinogens on lung cancer burden, even at low exposures, in a general population.
PMCID: PMC3396321  PMID: 22467291
lung neoplasms; case–control study; carcinogens; occupational health
12.  Genetic variants in DNA repair genes and the risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma in melanoma-prone families with/without CDKN2A mutations 
Cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) is an etiologically heterogeneous disease with genetic, environmental (sun exposure) and host (pigmentation/nevi) factors, and their interactions contributing to risk. Genetic variants in DNA repair genes may be particularly important since their altered function in response to sun exposure-related DNA damage maybe related to risk for CMM. However, systematic evaluations of genetic variants in DNA repair genes are limited, particularly in high-risk families.
We comprehensively analyzed DNA repair gene polymorphisms and CMM risk in melanoma-prone families with/without CDKN2A mutations. A total of 586 individuals (183 CMM) from 53 families (23 CDKN2A (+), 30 CDKN2A (−)) were genotyped for 2964 tagSNPs in 131 DNA repair genes. Conditional logistic regression, conditioning on families, was used to estimate trend p-values, odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the association between CMM and each SNP separately, adjusted for age and sex. P-values for SNPs in the same gene were combined to yield gene specific p-values. Two genes, POLN and PRKDC, were significantly associated with melanoma after Bonferroni correction for multiple testing (p=0.0003 and 0.00035, respectively). DCLRE1B showed suggestive association (p=0.0006). 28~56% of genotyped SNPs in these genes had single SNP p<0.05. The most significant SNPs in POLN and PRKDC had similar effects in CDKN2A (+) and CDKN2A (−) families. Our finding suggests that polymorphisms in DNA repair genes, POLN and PRKDC, were associated with increased melanoma risk in melanoma families with and without CDKN2A mutations.
PMCID: PMC3274649  PMID: 21671477
13.  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
14.  Variation of Second Cancer Risk by Family History of Retinoblastoma Among Long-Term Survivors  
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(9):950-957.
To evaluate the risk of second cancer (SC) in long-term survivors of retinoblastoma (Rb) according to classification of germline mutation, based on family history of Rb and laterality.
Patients and Methods
We assembled a cohort of 1,852 1-year survivors of Rb (bilateral, n = 1,036; unilateral, n = 816). SCs were ascertained by medical records and self-reports and confirmed by pathology reports. Classification of RB1 germline mutation, inherited or de novo, was inferred by laterality of Rb and positive family history of Rb. Standardized incidence ratios and cumulative incidence for all SCs combined and for soft tissue sarcomas, bone cancers, and melanoma were calculated. The influence of host- and therapy-related risk factors for SC was assessed by Poisson regression for bilateral survivors.
We observed a relative risk (RR) of 1.37 (95% CI, 1.00 to 1.86) for SCs in bilateral survivors associated with a family history of Rb, adjusted for treatment, age, and length of follow-up. The risk for melanoma was significantly elevated for survivors with a family history of Rb (RR, 3.08; 95% CI, 1.23 to 7.16), but risks for bone or soft tissue sarcomas were not elevated. The cumulative incidence of SCs 50 years after diagnosis of bilateral Rb, with adjustment for competing risk of death, was significantly higher for survivors with a family history (47%; 95% CI, 35% to 59%) than survivors without a family history (38%; 95% CI, 32% to 44%; P = .004).
Rb survivors with bilateral disease and an inherited germline mutation are at slightly higher risk of an SC compared with those with a de novo germline mutation, in particular melanoma, perhaps because of shared genetic alterations.
PMCID: PMC3341108  PMID: 22355046
15.  Common Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in Genes Related to Immune Function and Risk of Papillary Thyroid Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e57243.
Accumulating evidence suggests that alterations in immune function may be important in the etiology of papillary thyroid cancer (PTC). To identify genetic markers in immune-related pathways, we evaluated 3,985 tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 230 candidate gene regions (adhesion-extravasation-migration, arachidonic acid metabolism/eicosanoid signaling, complement and coagulation cascade, cytokine signaling, innate pathogen detection and antimicrobials, leukocyte signaling, TNF/NF-kB pathway or other) in a case-control study of 344 PTC cases and 452 controls. We used logistic regression models to estimate odds ratios (OR) and calculate one degree of freedom P values of linear trend (PSNP-trend) for the association between genotype (common homozygous, heterozygous, variant homozygous) and risk of PTC. To correct for multiple comparisons, we applied the false discovery rate method (FDR). Gene region- and pathway-level associations (PRegion and PPathway) were assessed by combining individual PSNP-trend values using the adaptive rank truncated product method. Two SNPs (rs6115, rs6112) in the SERPINA5 gene were significantly associated with risk of PTC (PSNP-FDR/PSNP-trend = 0.02/6×10−6 and PSNP-FDR/PSNP-trend = 0.04/2×10−5, respectively). These associations were independent of a history of autoimmune thyroiditis (OR = 6.4; 95% confidence interval: 3.0–13.4). At the gene region level, SERPINA5 was suggestively associated with risk of PTC (PRegion-FDR/PRegion = 0.07/0.0003). Overall, the complement and coagulation cascade pathway was the most significant pathway (PPathway = 0.02) associated with PTC risk largely due to the strong effect of SERPINA5. Our results require replication but suggest that the SERPINA5 gene, which codes for the protein C inhibitor involved in many biological processes including inflammation, may be a new susceptibility locus for PTC.
PMCID: PMC3592848  PMID: 23520464
16.  The chromosome 2p21 region harbors a complex genetic architecture for association with risk for renal cell carcinoma 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;21(5):1190-1200.
In follow-up of a recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) that identified a locus in chromosome 2p21 associated with risk for renal cell carcinoma (RCC), we conducted a fine mapping analysis of a 120 kb region that includes EPAS1. We genotyped 59 tagged common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 2278 RCC and 3719 controls of European background and observed a novel signal for rs9679290 [P = 5.75 × 10−8, per-allele odds ratio (OR) = 1.27, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.17–1.39]. Imputation of common SNPs surrounding rs9679290 using HapMap 3 and 1000 Genomes data yielded two additional signals, rs4953346 (P = 4.09 × 10−14) and rs12617313 (P = 7.48 × 10−12), both highly correlated with rs9679290 (r2 > 0.95), but interestingly not correlated with the two SNPs reported in the GWAS: rs11894252 and rs7579899 (r2 < 0.1 with rs9679290). Genotype analysis of rs12617313 confirmed an association with RCC risk (P = 1.72 × 10−9, per-allele OR = 1.28, 95% CI: 1.18–1.39) In conclusion, we report that chromosome 2p21 harbors a complex genetic architecture for common RCC risk variants.
PMCID: PMC3277315  PMID: 22113997
17.  Duplication of CXC chemokine genes on chromosome 4q13 in a melanoma-prone family 
Pigment cell & melanoma research  2012;25(2):243-247.
Copy number variations (CNVs) have been shown to contribute substantially to disease susceptibility in several inherited diseases including cancer. We conducted a genome-wide search for CNVs in blood-derived DNA from 79 individuals (62 melanoma patients and 17 spouse controls) of 30 high-risk melanoma-prone families without known segregating mutations using genome-wide comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) tiling arrays. We identified a duplicated region on chromosome 4q13 in germline DNA of all melanoma patients in a melanoma-prone family with three affected siblings. We confirmed the duplication using quantitative PCR and a custom-made CGH array design spanning the 4q13 region. The duplicated region contains 10 genes, most of which encode CXC chemokines. Among them, CXCL1 (melanoma growth-stimulating activity α) and IL8 (interleukin 8) have been shown to stimulate melanoma growth in vitro and in vivo. Our data suggests that the alteration of CXC chemokine genes may confer susceptibility to melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3288577  PMID: 22225770
Familial melanoma; Germline copy number variations; disease susceptibility; CXC chemokines; chromosome 4q13
18.  Common Genetic Variants in Sex Hormone Pathway Genes and Papillary Thyroid Cancer Risk 
Thyroid  2012;22(2):151-156.
Hormonal differences are hypothesized to contribute to the approximately ≥2-fold higher thyroid cancer incidence rates among women compared with men worldwide. Although thyroid cancer cells express estrogen receptors and estrogen has a proliferative effect on papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) cells in vitro, epidemiologic studies have not found clear associations between thyroid cancer and female hormonal factors. We hypothesized that polymorphic variation in hormone pathway genes is associated with the risk of developing papillary thyroid cancer.
We evaluated the association between PTC and 1151 tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 58 candidate gene regions involved in sex hormone synthesis and metabolism, gonadotropins, and prolactin in a case-control study of 344 PTC cases and 452 controls, frequency matched on age and sex. Odds ratios and p-values for the linear trend for the association between each SNP genotype and PTC risk were estimated using unconditional logistic regression. SNPs in the same gene region or pathway were aggregated using adaptive rank-truncated product methods to obtain gene region-specific or pathway-specific p-values. To account for multiple comparisons, we applied the false discovery rate method.
Seven SNPs had p-values for linear trend <0.01, including four in the CYP19A1 gene, but none of the SNPs remained significant after correction for multiple comparisons. Results were similar when restricting the dataset to women. p-values for examined gene regions and for all genes combined were ≥0.09.
Based on these results, SNPs in selected hormone pathway genes do not appear to be strongly related to PTC risk. This observation is in accord with the lack of consistent associations between hormonal factors and PTC risk in epidemiologic studies.
PMCID: PMC3271376  PMID: 22224819
19.  On the Interplay of Telomeres, Nevi and the Risk of Melanoma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52466.
The relationship between telomeres, nevi and melanoma is complex. Shorter telomeres have been found to be associated with many cancers and with number of nevi, a known risk factor for melanoma. However, shorter telomeres have also been found to decrease melanoma risk. We performed a systematic analysis of telomere-related genes and tagSNPs within these genes, in relation to the risk of melanoma, dysplastic nevi, and nevus count combining data from four studies conducted in Italy. In addition, we examined whether telomere length measured in peripheral blood leukocytes is related to the risk of melanoma, dysplastic nevi, number of nevi, or telomere-related SNPs. A total of 796 cases and 770 controls were genotyped for 517 SNPs in 39 telomere-related genes genotyped with a custom-made array. Replication of the top SNPs was conducted in two American populations consisting of 488 subjects from 53 melanoma-prone families and 1,086 cases and 1,024 controls from a case-control study. We estimated odds ratios for associations with SNPs and combined SNP P-values to compute gene region-specific, functional group-specific, and overall P-value using an adaptive rank-truncated product algorithm. In the Mediterranean population, we found suggestive evidence that RECQL4, a gene involved in genome stability, RTEL1, a gene regulating telomere elongation, and TERF2, a gene implicated in the protection of telomeres, were associated with melanoma, the presence of dysplastic nevi and number of nevi, respectively. However, these associations were not found in the American samples, suggesting variable melanoma susceptibility for these genes across populations or chance findings in our discovery sample. Larger studies across different populations are necessary to clarify these associations.
PMCID: PMC3531488  PMID: 23300679
20.  A genome-wide association study identifies alleles in FGFR2 associated with risk of sporadic postmenopausal breast cancer 
Nature genetics  2007;39(7):870-874.
We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of breast cancer by genotyping 528,173 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 1,145 cases of invasive breast cancer among postmenopausal white women, and 1,142 controls. We identified a set of four SNPs in intron 2 of FGFR2, a tyrosine kinase receptor previously shown to be amplified and/or over-expressed in some breast cancers, as highly associated with breast cancer and we confirmed this association in 1,776 cases and 2,072 controls from three additional studies. In both association testing and ancestral recombination graph analysis, FGFR2 haplotypes were associated with risk of breast cancer. Across the four studies the association with all four SNPs was highly statistically significant (Ptrend for the most strongly associated SNP, rs1219648 = 1.1 × 10−10; population attributable risk = 16%). Four SNPs at other chromosomal loci most strongly associated with breast cancer in the initial GWAS were not associated with risk in the three replication studies. Our summary results from the GWAS are freely available online in a form that should speed the identification of additional loci conferring risk.
PMCID: PMC3493132  PMID: 17529973
Prenatal Diagnosis  2011;31(11):1046-1053.
To identify the frequency of pregnancy and neonatal complications in pregnancies carrying fetuses affected with trichothiodystrophy (TTD).
We identified pregnancy and neonatal complications and serum screening results from mothers of TTD patients in a DNA repair diseases study from 2001 to 2011.
Pregnancy reports of 27 TTD patients and their 23 mothers were evaluated and81% of the pregnancies had complications: 56% had preterm delivery, 30% had preeclampsia, 19% had placental abnormalities, 11% had HELLP syndrome, 4% had an emergency c-section for fetal distress; while44% had two or more complications. Only19% of the pregnancies delivered at term without complications. Eight of the 10 pregnancies tested had abnormal multiple marker results including elevated levels of human chorionic gonadotropin. Eighty-five percent of the neonates had complications: 70 % were low birth weight (<2500g), 35% had birth weight <10 centile for gestational age, 70% had NICU admission, 67% had a collodion membrane, and 31% of the 16 males had cryptorchidism. Cataracts were present in 54% of the TTD patients examined.
TTD is a multisystem disease that predisposes mothers of affected patients to substantial risks for pregnancy complications and TTD neonates have a high incidence of multiple abnormalities.
PMCID: PMC3266696  PMID: 21800331
Trichothiodystrophy; Pregnancy; Maternal Serum Screening; hCG; Preeclampsia; HELLP syndrome
22.  Sarcomas in hereditary retinoblastoma 
Children diagnosed with the hereditary form of retinoblastoma (Rb), a rare eye cancer caused by a germline mutation in the RB1 tumor suppressor gene, have excellent survival, but face an increased risk of bone and soft tissue sarcomas. This predisposition to sarcomas has been attributed to genetic susceptibility due to inactivation of the RB1 gene as well as past radiotherapy for Rb. The majority of bone and soft tissue sarcomas among hereditary Rb survivors occur in the head, within the radiation field, but they also occur outside the radiation field. Sarcomas account for almost half of the second primary cancers in hereditary Rb survivors, but they are very rare following non-hereditary Rb. Sarcomas among hereditary Rb survivors arise at ages similar to the pattern of occurrence in the general population. There has been a trend over the past two decades to replace radiotherapy with chemotherapy and other focal therapies (laser or cryosurgery), and most recently, chemosurgery in order to reduce the incidence of sarcomas and other second cancers in Rb survivors. Given the excellent survival of most Rb patients treated in the past, it is important for survivors, their families and health care providers to be aware of the heightened risk for sarcomas in hereditary patients.
PMCID: PMC3499233  PMID: 23036192
Retinoblastoma; Soft tissue sarcoma; Bone sarcoma; Radiotherapy; Epidemiology; RB1 gene; Hereditary
23.  Leukocyte DNA methylation and colorectal cancer among male smokers 
AIM: To explore the association between methylation in leukocyte DNA and colorectal cancer (CRC) risk in male smokers using the α-tocopherol, β-carotene cancer prevention study.
METHODS: About 221 incident CRC cases, and 219 controls, frequency-matched on age and smoking intensity were included. DNA methylation of 1505 CpG sites selected from 807 genes were evaluated using Illumina GoldenGate Methylation Cancer Panel I in pre-diagnostic blood leukocytes of study subjects. Tertiles of methylation level classified according to the distribution in controls for each CpG site were used to analyze the association between methylation level and CRC risk with logistic regression. The time between blood draw to cancer diagnosis (classifying cases according to latency) was incorporated in further analyses using proportional odds regression.
RESULTS: We found that methylation changes of 31 CpG sites were associated with CRC risk at P < 0.01 level. Though none of these 31 sites remained statistically significant after Bonferroni correction, the most statistically significant CpG site associated with CRC risk achieved a P value of 1.0 × 10-4. The CpG site is located in DSP gene, and the risk estimate was 1.52 (95% CI: 0.91-2.53) and 2.62 (95% CI: 1.65-4.17) for the second and third tertile comparing with the lowest tertile respectively. Taking the latency information into account strengthened some associations, suggesting that the methylation levels of corresponding sites might change over time with tumor progression.
CONCLUSION: The results suggest that the methylation level of some genes were associated with cancer susceptibility and some were related to tumor development over time. Further studies are warranted to confirm and refine our results.
PMCID: PMC3423510  PMID: 22912915
DNA methylation; Colorectal cancer; Susceptibility
24.  Common genetic variants related to genomic integrity and risk of papillary thyroid cancer 
Carcinogenesis  2011;32(8):1231-1237.
DNA damage is an important mechanism in carcinogenesis, so genes related to maintaining genomic integrity may influence papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) risk. Candidate gene studies targeting some of these genes have identified only a few polymorphisms associated with risk of PTC. Here, we expanded the scope of previous candidate studies by increasing the number and coverage of genes related to maintenance of genomic integrity. We evaluated 5077 tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 340 candidate gene regions hypothesized to be involved in DNA repair, epigenetics, tumor suppression, apoptosis, telomere function and cell cycle control and signaling pathways in a case–control study of 344 PTC cases and 452 matched controls. We estimated odds ratios for associations of single SNPs with PTC risk and combined P values for SNPs in the same gene region or pathway to obtain gene region-specific or pathway-specific P values using adaptive rank-truncated product methods. Nine SNPs had P values <0.0005, three of which were in HDAC4 and were inversely related to PTC risk. After multiple comparisons adjustment, no SNPs remained associated with PTC risk. Seven gene regions were associated with PTC risk at P < 0.01, including HUS1, ALKBH3, HDAC4, BAK1, FAF1_CDKN2C, DACT3 and FZD6. Our results suggest a possible role of genes involved in maintenance of genomic integrity in relation to risk of PTC.
PMCID: PMC3166197  PMID: 21642358
25.  Sunbeds and sunlamps: who used them and their risk for melanoma 
Pigment cell & melanoma research  2011;24(3):574-581.
Sunbed/sunlamp use was recently classified as carcinogenic. This report considers characteristics of those who use sunbeds/sunlamps and the effect of sunbed/sunlamp use on their risk for melanoma within a large case-control study carried out in 1991–2. Females were more likely than males to have used sunbeds/sunlamps. Use by females increased strongly and significantly with younger ages and with the perceived ability to tan. For females the individual risk for melanoma increased with typical session time and frequency of sessions. Use before age 20, current use and years of use were not significant. The use patterns of occasional and frequent users were very different. We estimate that typical 5 minute sessions would increase the risk for melanoma by 19% for frequent users (10+ sessions) and by 3% for occasional users (1–9 sessions). Body sites that are not generally exposed to sunlight were more common sites of primary melanomas for frequent sunbed/sunlamp users. For males, measures of sunbed/sunlamp use were not significantly associated with melanoma risk.
PMCID: PMC3107003  PMID: 21362155
sunbeds/sunlamps; risk factor; melanoma; UVR; dysplastic nevi

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