Linzhou, China has one of the highest rates of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in the world. Exposure to carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), such as benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), may play a role in this increased risk. To better understand PAH sources, we measured PAHs in the air and food of 20 non-smokers over multiple days and compared the concentrations to a urinary PAH biomarker, 1-hydroxypyrene glucuronide (1-OHPG). Sampling occurred over four consecutive days. Kitchen air samples (days 2–3) and duplicate diet samples (days 1–4) were analyzed for 14 or more unique PAHs, including BaP. Daily urine samples (days 1–3) were analyzed for 1-OHPG. Mixed-effects models were used to evaluate the associations between air or food PAH concentrations and urine 1-OHPG concentrations. The median kitchen air BaP concentration was 10.2 ng/m3 (inter-quartile range (IQR): 5.1–20.2 ng/m3). The median daily food BaP concentration and intake were 0.08 ng/g (IQR=0.04–0.16 ng/g) and 86 ng/day (IQR=41–142 ng/day), respectively. The median 1-OHPG concentration was 3.36 pmol/mL (IQR=2.09–6.98 pmol/mL). In mixed-effects models, 1-OHPG concentration increased with same-day concentration of food BaP (p=0.07). Though PAH concentrations in air were not associated with 1-OHPG concentrations, the high concentrations of PAHs in both air and food suggest that they are both important routes of exposure to PAHs in this population. Further evaluation of the role of PAH exposure from air and food in the elevated rates of esophageal cancer in this region is warranted.
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; cancer; China; dietary exposure; inhalation exposure; biomonitoring; multimedia exposure assessment
This study represents a multiplex cytokine analysis of serum from a 10-month randomized, controlled trial of 238 subjects that investigated the effects of selenomethionine and/or celecoxib in subjects with mild or moderate esophageal squamous dysplasia. The original chemoprevention study found that among those with mild dysplasia, selenomethionine treatment favorably altered dysplasia grade. The current analysis found that selenomethionine down-regulated IL-2 by 9% (p=0.04), while celecoxib down-regulated IL-7 by 11% (p=0.006) and up-regulated IL-13 by 17% (p=0.008). In addition, an increase in IL-7 tertile from baseline to t10 was significantly associated with an increase in dysplasia grade, both overall (OR=1.47, p=0.03) and among those with mild dysplasia at t0 (OR=2.53 p=0.001). An increase in IL-2 tertile from baseline to t10 was also non-significantly associated with worsening dysplasia for all participants (OR=1.32 p=0.098), and significantly associated with worsening dysplasia among those with mild dysplasia at baseline (OR=2.0 p=0.01). The association of increased IL-2 with worsening dysplasia remained significant in those on selenomethionine treatment who began the trial with mild dysplasia (OR=2.52 p=0.03). The current study shows that selenomethionine supplementation decreased serum IL-2 levels, while celecoxib treatment decreased IL-7 levels and increased IL-13 levels during a 10 month randomized chemoprevention trial. An increase in IL-2 or IL-7 was associated with increased severity of dysplasia over the course of the trial, especially in those who began the trial with mild dysplasia. The favorable effect of selenomethionine on esophageal dysplasia in the original trial may have been mediated in part by its effect on reducing levels of IL-2.
chemoprevention; interleukin-2; preneoplasia; gastrointestinal tract; selenium
Certain regions of China have high rates of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). Previous studies of human papillomavirus (HPV), a proposed causal factor, have produced highly variable results. We attempted to evaluate HPV and ESCC more definitively using extreme care to prevent DNA contamination. We collected tissue and serum in China from 272 histopathologically-confirmed ESCC cases with rigorous attention to good molecular biology technique. We tested for HPV DNA in fresh-frozen tumor tissue using PCR with PGMY L1 consensus primers and HPV16 and 18 type-specific E6 and E7 primers, and in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumor tissue using SPF10 L1 primers. In HPV-positive cases, we evaluated p16INK4a overexpression and HPV E6/E7 seropositivity as evidence of carcinogenic HPV activity. β-globin, and thus DNA, was adequate in 98.2% of the frozen tumor tissues (267/272). Of these, 99.6% (95% confidence interval (CI) = 97.9–100.0%) were negative for HPV DNA by PGMY, and 100% (95% CI = 98.6–100%) were negative by HPV16/18 E6/E7 PCR. In the corresponding formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumor specimens, 99.3% (95% CI = 97.3–99.9%) were HPV negative by SPF10. By PGMY, 1 case tested weakly positive for HPV89, a noncancer causing HPV type. By SPF10, 2 cases tested weakly positive: 1 for HPV16 and 1 for HPV31. No HPV DNA-positive case had evidence of HPV oncogene activity as measured by p16INK4a overexpression or E6/E7 seropositivity. This study provides the most definitive evidence to date that HPV is not involved in ESCC carcinogenesis in China. HPV DNA contamination cannot be ruled out as an explanation for high HPV prevalence in ESCC tissue studies with less stringent tissue procurement and processing protocols.
human papillomavirus; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma
Thousands of people in central Asia die every year from gastric cardia adenocarcinoma (GCA). GCA arises in the transformation zone between the esophagus and the stomach, similar to cervical and oropharyngeal carcinoma, which arise in areas with transformation zone characteristics. The analogous biology of the gastric cardia to the cervix and oropharynx, where human papillomavirus (HPV) is known to cause cancer, raises the possibility that GCA could be an HPV-associated cancer. Given the availability of an effective HPV vaccine and its potential to prevent HPV-associated cancer, we decided to evaluate the prevalence of HPV DNA in GCA.
We collected tumor tissue from 144 histopathologically-confirmed GCA patients at Yaocun Commune Hospital, Linxian, China, with rigorous attention to prevent DNA contamination. We tested for the presence of HPV DNA in fresh-frozen tumor specimens using PCR with sensitive L1, E6, and E7-based primers.
DNA was adequate, as indicated by β-globin positivity, in 108 cases. Of these, all (100%, 95% confidence interval: 97%–100%) were negative for HPV DNA
These results suggest that HPV does not contribute to gastric cardia carcinogenesis in north central China.
Since GCA does not appear to be an HPV-associated cancer, prophylactic HPV vaccination is unlikely to affect rates of GCA in China.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCC) are usually asymptomatic and go undetected until they are incurable. Cytological screening is one strategy to detect ESCC at an early stage and has shown promise in previous studies, although improvement in sensitivity and specificity are needed. Proteases modulate cancer progression by facilitating tumor invasion and metastasis. In the current study, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) were studied in a search for new early detection markers for ESCC.
Protein expression levels of MMPs were measured using zymography in 24 cases of paired normal esophagus and ESCC, and in the tumor-associated stroma and tumor epithelium in one sample after laser capture microdissection (LCM). MMP-3 and MMP-10 transcripts in both the epithelium and stroma in five cases were further analyzed by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR).
Gelatin zymography showed bands corresponding in size to MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-9, and MMP-10 enzymes in each of the 24 cancer cases. MMP levels tended to be higher in tumors than paired normal tissue; however, only the 45 kDa band that corresponds to the activated form of MMP-3 and MMP-10 was strongly expressed in all 24 tumors with little or no expression in the paired normal foci. LCM-based analysis showed the 45 kDA band to be present in both the stromal and epithelial components of the tumor microenvironment, and that MMP-3 and MMP-10 mRNA levels were higher in tumors than paired normal tissues for each compartment.
Increased levels of MMPs occur in ESCC suggesting their up-regulation is important in esophageal tumorigenesis. The up-regulated gene products have the potential to serve as early detection markers in the clinic.
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.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Esophageal squamous dysplasia; Early detection; Screening; Balloon cytology; Telomeres
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure is a risk factor for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), and PAHs are ligands of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). This study measured the expression of AhR and related genes in frozen esophageal cell samples from patients exposed to different levels of indoor air pollution, who did or did not have high-grade squamous dysplasia (HGD), and who did or did not have a family history (FH) of upper gastrointestinal cancer (UGI Ca).
147 samples were evaluated, including 23 (16%) from patients with HGD and 48 (33%) from patients without DYS who heated their homes with coal, without a chimney (a “high” indoor air pollution group), and 27 (18%) from patients with HGD and 49 (33%) from patients without DYS who did not heat their homes at all (a “low” indoor air pollution group). Nearly half (64 (44%)) had a FH of UGI Ca. RNA was extracted and Quantitative-PCR analysis was performed.
AhR gene expression was detectable in 85 (58%) of the samples, and was more than 9-fold higher in those with a FH of UGI Ca (median expression (IQR) -1964 (-18000, -610) versus -18000 (-18000, -1036) Wilcoxon P = 0.02). Heating status, dysplasia category, age, gender, and smoking were not associated with AhR expression (linear regression, all P-values ≥0.1).
AhR expression was higher in patients with a FH of UGI Ca. Such individuals may be more susceptible to the deleterious effects of PAH exposure, including PAH-induced cancer.
Gastrointestinal tract cancer; Esophagus; Aryl hydrocarbon receptor; family history of cancer; gene expression; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
Squamous dysplasia is the precursor lesion for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), and nutritional factors play an important role in the etiology of this cancer. Previous studies using a variety of measures of vitamin D exposure have reached different conclusions about the association between vitamin D and risk of developing esophageal cancer.
We measured serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations in a cross-sectional analysis of 720 subjects from Linxian, China, a population at high risk for developing ESCC. All subjects underwent endoscopy and biopsy and were categorized by presence or absence of histologic squamous dysplasia. We used crude and multivariate adjusted generalized linear models to estimate the relative risk (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the association between squamous dysplasia and sex-specific quartiles of serum 25(OH)D concentration.
Two hundred and thirty (32%) of 720 subjects had squamous dysplasia. Subjects with dysplasia had significantly higher median serum 25(OH)D concentrations then subjects without dysplasia, 36.5 and 31.5 nmol/L respectively (Wilcoxon two-sample test p = 0.0004). In multivariate adjusted models, subjects in the highest compared to the lowest quartile were at significantly increased risk of squamous dysplasia, RR (95% CI) = 1.86 (1.35–2.62). Increased risks were similar when examined in men and women separately: Men RR (95% CI) = 1.74 (1.08–2.93); Women RR (95% CI) = 1.96 (1.28–3.18).
Higher serum 25(OH)D concentration was associated with significantly increased risk of squamous dysplasia. No obvious source of measured or unmeasured confounding explains this finding.
Esophageal cancer; Squamous dysplasia; Vitamin D; Serum 25(OH)D; China
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.
Esophageal cancer; Squamous dysplasia; Pepsinogen; 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.
esophageal cancer; quantitative RT-PCR; tissue microarray; survival; early detection; CDC25B; LAMC2
Previous studies have shown important effects of stromal elements in carcinogenesis. To explore the tumor-stromal relationship in esophageal neoplasia, we examined methylation of COX-2 (PTGS2), a gene etiologically associated with the development of gastrointestinal cancers, in adjacent foci of epithelium, subepithelial lymphocytes and non-lymphocytic stromal cells found in sections of normal squamous epithelium, squamous dysplasia and invasive esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
Adjacent foci of epithelium, subepithelial lymphocytic aggregates and non-lymphocytic stromal tissues were laser microdissected from six fully embedded, ethanol fixed, esophagectomy samples from Shanxi, China, a high-risk region for esophageal cancer. Promoter CpG site-specific hypermethylation status of COX-2 was determined using real-time methylation specific PCR (qMS-PCR) based on Taqman Chemistry. The methylation status of a subset of samples was confirmed by pyrosequencing.
Forty-nine microdissected foci were analyzed. COX-2 gene methylation was significantly more common in subepithelial lymphocytes (12/16 (75% of all foci)) than in epithelial foci (3/16 (19%)) or foci of non-lymphocytic stromal tissues (3/17 (18%)) (Fisher’s Exact p=0.05). Two of three epithelial samples and all three stromal samples that showed COX-2 methylation were adjacent to foci of methylated subepithelial lymphocytes. Pyrosequencing confirmed the methylation status in a subset of samples.
In these esopohageal cancer patients, COX-2 gene methylation was more common in subepithelial lymphocytes than in adjacent epithelial or stromal cells in both grades of dysplasia and in foci of invasive cancer. These findings raise the possibility that methylation of subepithelial lymphocytes may be important for tumorigenesis. Future studies of gene methylation should consider separate evaluation of epithelial and non-epithelial cell populations.
COX2 (PTGS2) gene methylation increases with disease severity and is more common in subepithelial lymphocytes than in adjacent epithelial or stromal cells in dysplastic and early invasive esophageal squamous cell cancer foci.
esophagus; neoplasms; cancer; cyclooxgenase-2; precancerous conditions; methylation; lymphocytes; squamous cell cancer
The incidence of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is very high in northern China. This cancer has a very poor prognosis, mostly because it is usually diagnosed at a late stage. Detection an earlier stage can dramatically improve prognosis. Microscopic evaluation of esophageal balloon cytology (EBC) specimens has been the most common method for early detection of ESCC, but this technique is limited by low sensitivity and specificity. The use of molecular markers may improve these screening characteristics. This study evaluates whether measurement of gene methylation in EBC specimens may have utility for the detection of esophageal squamous dysplasia and early ESCC. We evaluated the presence of methylation in eight genes shown to be methylated in ESCC in previous studies in EBC specimens from 147 patients with endoscopic biopsy diagnoses ranging from normal mucosa through severe squamous dysplasia. Methylation status was determined using quantitative methylation-specific PCR techniques. The sensitivity and specificity of methylation of each individual gene and combinations of these genes to detect biopsy-proven high-grade (moderate or severe) squamous dysplasia was determined. For individual genes, the sensitivities ranged from 9–34% and the specificities ranged from 77–99%. Using a panel of four genes (AHRR, p16INK4a, MT1G, and CLDN3) resulted in sensitivity and specificity of 50% and 68%, respectively. This study suggests that evaluation of gene methylation in EBC samples may have utility for early detection of esophageal squamous dysplasia and early ESCC, however, identification of more sensitive methylation markers will be required for development of a clinically useful screening test.
gene methylation; early detection; cytology; esophageal squamous cell cancer
The highest rates of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in Brazil occur in Rio Grande do Sul, the most southern state, which has incidence rates of 20.4/100,000/year for men and 6.5/100,000/year for women. Exposure to carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) through tobacco smoke and other sources may increase the risk of ESCC. The aims of the current study were to investigate the degree and sources of PAH exposure of the inhabitants of this region of southern Brazil.
Two hundred healthy adults (half smokers, half non smokers, half male and half female) were recruited, given a standardized questionnaire, and asked to provide a urine sample for measurement of 1-hydroxypyrene glucuronide (1-OHPG), a PAH metabolite). Urine 1-OHPG concentrations were measured using immunoaffinity chromatography and synchronous fluorescence spectroscopy and urine cotinine was measured using a dipstick test. We examined factors associated with 1-OHPG concentration using Wilcoxon tests and multiple linear regression.
Urine 1-hydroxypyrene glucuronide (1-OHPG) was successfully measured on 199 subjects. The median (interquartile range) of urine 1-OHPG in the 199 participants was 2.09 pmol/mL (0.51, 5.84). Tobacco smoke exposure and maté drinking were statistically significantly associated with higher urine 1-OHPG concentrations in the multivariate linear regression model.
Tobacco smoke and maté both contribute to high levels of benzo[a]pyrene exposure in the people of southern Brazil. This high PAH exposure may contribute to the high rates of ESCC observed in this population. The increased urine 1-OHPG concentrations associated with maté suggest that contaminants, not just thermal injury, may help explain the increased risk of ESCC previously reported for maté consumption.
The oral health status of rural residents in the People's Republic of China has not been extensively studied and the relationship between poor oral health and esophageal cancer (EC) is unclear. We aim to report the oral health status of adults participating in an EC screening study conducted in a rural high-risk EC area of China and to explore the relationship between oral health and esophageal dysplasia.
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) oral health examination procedures and the Modified Gingival Index (MGI) were used in a clinical study designed to examine risk factors for esophageal cancer and to test a new esophageal cytology sampling device. This study was conducted in three rural villages in China with high rates of EC in 2002 and was a collaborative effort involving investigators from the National Institutes of Health and the Cancer Institute of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.
Nearly 17% of the study participants aged 40–67 years old were edentulous. Overall, the mean number of adjusted missing teeth (including third molars and retained dental roots) was 13.8 and 35% had 7 contacts or less. Women were more likely to experience greater tooth loss than men. The average age at the time of first tooth loss for those with no posterior functional contacts was approximately 41 years for men and 36 years for women. The mean DMFT (decayed, missing, and filled teeth) score for the study population was 8.5. Older persons, females, and individuals having lower educational attainment had higher DMFT scores. The prevalence of periodontal disease (defined as at least one site with 3 mm of attachment loss and 4 mm of pocket depth) was 44.7%, and 36.7% of the study participants had at least one site with 6 mm or more of attachment loss. Results from a parsimonious multivariate model indicate that participants with poor oral health wemore likely to have esophageal dysplasia (OR = 1.59; 95% CI 1.06, 2.39).
This report describes the first use of NHANES oral health protocols employed in a clinical study conducted outside of the United States. The extent and severity of poor oral health in this Chinese study group may be an important health problem and contributing factor to the prevalence of EC.