Circulating micro-RNA (miR) profiles have been proposed as promising diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for cancer, including lung cancer. We have developed methods to accurately and reproducibly measure microRNA levels in serum and plasma. Here we study paired serum and plasma samples from 220 patients with early stage NSCLC and 220 matched controls. We use qRT-PCR to measure the circulating levels of 30 different miRs that have previously been reported to be differently expressed in lung cancer tissue. Duplicate RNA extractions were performed for 10% of all samples and microRNA measurements were highly correlated among those duplicates. This demonstrates high reproducibility of our assay. The expression of miR-146b, miR-221, let-7a, miR-155, miR-17-5p, miR-27a and miR-106a were significantly reduced in the serum of NSCLC cases while miR-29c was significantly increased. No significant differences were observed in plasma of patients compared to controls. Overall, expression levels in serum did not correlate well with levels in plasma. In secondary analyses, reduced plasma expression of let-7b was modestly associated with worse cancer-specific mortality in all patients and reduced serum expression of miR-223 was modestly associated with cancer-specific mortality in stage IA/B patients. MiR profiles also showed considerable differences comparing African American and European Americans. In summary, we found significant differences in miR expression when comparing cases and controls and find evidence that expression of let-7b is associated with prognosis in NSCLC.
Because chronic intestinal inflammation is a risk factor for colorectal cancer, we hypothesized that genetic variants of inflammatory mediators, such as mannose-binding lectin 2 (MBL2), are associated with colon cancer susceptibility. Here we report the association of 24 MBL2 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and corresponding haplotypes with colon cancer risk in a case-control study. Four SNPs in the 3′-UTR region of the gene (rs10082466, rs2120132, rs2099902, and rs10450310) were associated with an increased risk of colon cancer in African Americans. Odds ratios (OR) for homozygous variants vs. wild-type ranged from 3.17 (95% CI, 1.57–6.40) to 4.51 (95% CI, 1.94–10.50), whereas the 3′-UTR region haplotype consisting of these four variants had an OR of 2.10 (95% CI, 1.42–3.12). The C allele of rs10082466 exhibited a binding affinity of miR-27a and this allele was associated with both lower MBL plasma levels and activity. We found that 5′ secretor haplotypes known to correlate with moderate and low MBL serum levels exhibited associations with increased risk of colon cancer in African Americans, specifically as driven by two haplotypes LYPA and LYQC relative to the referent HYPA haplotype (LYPA: OR 2.60; 95% CI 1.33–5.08 and LYQC: OR 2.28; 95% CI 1.20–4.30). Similar associations were not displayed in Caucasians. Together, our results support the hypothesis that genetic variations in MBL2 increase colon cancer susceptibility in African Americans.
colon cancer; single nucleotide polymorphism; mannose-binding lectin 2; innate immunity; African American
p53 takes critical part in a number of positive and negative feedback loops to regulate carcinogenesis, aging and other biological processes. Uncapped or dysfunctional telomeres are an endogenous DNA damage that activates ATM kinase (ataxia telangiectasia mutated) and then p53 to induce cellular senescence or apoptosis. Our recent study shows that p53, a downstream effector of the telomere damage signaling, also functions upstream of the telomere-capping protein complex by inhibiting one of its components, TRF2 (telomeric repeat binding factor 2). Since TRF2 inhibition leads to ATM activation, a novel positive feedback loop exists to amplify uncapped telomere-induced, p53-mediated cellular responses. Siah1 (seven in absentia homolog 1), a p53-inducible E3 ubiquitin ligase, plays a key role in this feedback regulation by targeting TRF2 for ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. Biological significance and therapeutic implications of this study are discussed.
telomere uncapping; p53; ubiquitin ligase; TRF2; feedback regulation
MicroRNAs are being evaluated as biomarkers and therapeutic targets for colon cancer. MicroRNAs have a functional role in the initiation and progression of colon cancer. Altered microRNA expression is found in tumors and their expression patterns may serve as useful cancer biomarkers. Polymorphisms in microRNAs or microRNA binding sites may modify ones risk of developing cancer. As we continue to improve our understanding of the role for microRNAs in the initiation and progression of cancer, one goal is to gain insights that will allow for the development of microRNAs as biomarkers and therapeutic targets for cancer. This review provides a current understanding of the connection between microRNAs and colon cancer. We will cover evidence that global microRNA expression patterns are altered in colon tumors, that specific microRNAs have a functional role colon carcinogenesis, that polymorphisms in microRNAs may be associated with risk of colon cancer, and the potential for using circulating microRNAs as a non-invasive biomarker for the detection of cancer.
There is increasing evidence that altered microRNA expression is associated with tumor progression and survival in cancer patients. We tested if the expression of specific microRNAs was associated with prognosis and disease progression in early stage lung adenocarcinoma.
The expression of miR-21, miR-17 and miR-155 was measured by quantitative RT-PCR in tissues from 317 non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients that originated from Maryland, Norway and Japan. Kaplan Meier and Cox regression analysis evaluated associations of microRNA expression with cancer-specific mortality and disease free survival.
Elevated miR-21 (hazard ratio [HR] 2.06, 1.13–3.75), miR-17 (HR 2.00, 1.10–3.61), miR-155 (HR 2.37, 1.27–4.42) was associated with worse cancer-specific mortality in the Maryland cohort. These were evaluated in two additional cohorts and only miR-21 was associated with worse cancer-specific mortality in the Norwegian cohort (HR 2.78, 1.22–6.31) and worse relapse free survival in the Japanese cohort (HR 2.82, 1.57–5.07). More advanced stage tumors expressed significantly higher levels of miR-21 compared to TNM stage I tumors. TNM stage I patients were evaluated separately and high levels of miR-21 was associated with worse cancer-specific mortality (HR 2.16, 1.11–4.21) and relapse-free survival (3.40, 1.57–7.36) independent of other clinical factors.
Conclusions and Summary
This is the first study to report that increased miR-21 expression is associated with disease progression and survival in stage I lung cancer. This suggests that expression of miR-21 may contribute to lung carcinogenesis and serve as a therapeutic target or early stage prognostic biomarker for lung adenocarcinoma.
The telomere-capping complex (shelterin) protects functional telomeres from initiating unwanted DNA damage response. Uncapped telomeres at the end of cellular replicative lifespan lose this protective mechanism and trigger DNA damage signaling to activate p53 and thereby induce replicative senescence. Here we identify a signaling pathway involving p53, Siah-1, a p53-inducible E3 ubiquitin ligase, and TRF2, a component of the shelterin complex. Endogenous Siah-1 and TRF2 were up- and down-regulated, respectively, at replicative senescence with activated p53. A series of experimental manipulations of p53 showed that p53 induced Siah-1 and repressed TRF2 protein levels. The p53-dependent ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of TRF2 were attributed to the E3 ligase activity of Siah-1. Siah-1 knockdown stabilized TRF2 and delayed the onset of cellular replicative senescence, suggesting the role of Siah-1 and TRF2 in p53-regulated senescence. This study reveals that p53, a downstream effector of the telomere-initiated damage signaling, also functions upstream of the shelterin complex.
New treatments are needed for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), which currently has a poor prognosis. Cellular immortalisation, one of the hallmarks of cancer, depends on the activity of a telomere length maintenance mechanism (TMM) – either telomerase or alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT). The TMMs are widely regarded as potential targets for cancer therapies and telomerase inhibitors have entered clinical trials. The aim of this study was to determine what proportion of MPMs use ALT and/or telomerase. Forty-three MPMs from 42 patients were examined for telomerase and ALT activity. Telomerase activity was detected by immunoaffinity purification followed by the telomere repeat amplification protocol (TRAP), and ALT activity was determined by the C-circle assay and by assessing telomere lengths using terminal restriction fragment analyses. We found that 43 of 43 MPMs were telomerase-positive[+] and ALT-negative[−]. Therefore, to investigate whether pleural mesothelial cells are unusually susceptible to activation of telomerase, we examined activation of the TMMs in an in vitro model of cellular immortalisation, in which normal pleural mesothelial cells were transduced with simian virus 40 (SV40) oncogenes. We found that normal mesothelial cells were TMM-negative, and that expression of the SV40 oncogenes did not directly activate telomerase or ALT. Immortalisation, which in this experimental system results from additional genetic changes that have not yet been identified, was accompanied by activation of either TMM. Therefore, pleural mesothelial cells are capable of activating either TMM in vitro, and the observation that 100% of MPMs were telomerase[+] suggests that there are factors in vivo that select for telomerase activity during oncogenesis of this tumour type. We conclude that MPM is a tumour that could be considered for anti-telomerase therapy.
Malignant mesothelioma; Telomerase; Alternative lengthening of telomeres; Immortalisation; Telomere maintenance mechanism; Pleura
Previous studies that were based primarily on small numbers of patients suggested that certain circulating proinflammatory cytokines may be associated with lung cancer; however, large independent studies are lacking.
Associations between serum interleukin 6 (IL-6) and interleukin 8 (IL-8) levels and lung cancer were analyzed among 270 case patients and 296 control subjects participating in the National Cancer Institute-Maryland (NCI-MD) case–control study. Results were validated in 532 case patients and 595 control subjects in a nested case–control study within the prospective Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial. Association with C-reactive protein (CRP), a systemic inflammation biomarker, was also analyzed. Associations between biomarkers and lung cancer were estimated using logistic regression models adjusted for smoking, stage, histology, age, and sex. The 10-year standardized absolute risks of lung cancer were estimated using a weighted Cox regression model.
Serum IL-6 and IL-8 levels in the highest quartile were associated with lung cancer in the NCI-MD study (IL-6, odds ratio [OR] = 3.29, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.88 to 5.77; IL-8, OR = 2.06, 95% CI = 1.19 to 3.57) and with lung cancer risk in the PLCO study (IL-6, OR = 1.48, 95% CI = 1.04 to 2.10; IL-8, OR = 1.57, 95% CI = 1.10 to 2.24), compared with the lowest quartile. In the PLCO study, increased IL-6 levels were only associated with lung cancer diagnosed within 2 years of blood collection, whereas increased IL-8 levels were associated with lung cancer diagnosed more than 2 years after blood collection (OR = 1.57, 95% CI = 1.15 to 2.13). The 10-year standardized absolute risks of lung cancer in the PLCO study were highest among current smokers with high IL-8 and CRP levels (absolute risk = 8.01%, 95% CI = 5.77% to 11.05%).
Although increased levels of both serum IL-6 and IL-8 are associated with lung cancer, only IL-8 levels are associated with lung cancer risk several years before diagnosis. Combination of IL-8 and CRP are more robust biomarkers than either marker alone in predicting subsequent lung cancer.
Although exposure to estrogen may directly influence or modify the association between cigarette smoking and lung cancer risk, results from epidemiologic studies examining the association between reproductive and hormonal factors and risk of lung cancer among women have been inconsistent. Between 1998 and 2008, 430 women diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer, 316 hospital controls, and 295 population controls were recruited into the multi-center Maryland Lung Cancer Study. Conditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) according to reproductive and hormonal exposures adjusting for age, smoking, passive smoking, education, and household income. Results were similar for hospital and population based controls, so the control groups were combined. Reduced risks of lung cancer were observed among women with greater parity (≥5 vs. 1-2 births: OR=0.50, 95% CI 0.32, 0.78, P-trend=0.002) and later ages at last birth (≥30 vs <25 years old: OR=0.68, 95% CI 0.48, 0.98, P-trend=0.04). After mutual adjustment parity, but not age at last birth, remained significantly inversely associated with risk (P-trend=0.01). No associations were found for non-small cell lung cancer risk with age at menarche, age at first birth, menopausal status, oral contraceptive use, or menopausal hormone use, including use of oral estrogens. Compatible with findings from recent epidemiologic studies, we observed a reduction in the risk of non-small cell lung cancer with increasing number of births. Other reproductive and hormonal exposures, including menopausal hormone therapy use, were not associated with risk.
Lung neoplasms; reproductive factors; menstrual factors; exogenous hormones; case-control study
Lung cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer death in the USA and the best example of a cancer with undisputed evidence of environmental risk. However, a genetic contribution to lung cancer has also been demonstrated by studies of familial aggregation, family-based linkage, candidate gene studies and most recently genome-wide association studies (GWAS). The African-American population has been underrepresented in these genetic studies and has patterns of cigarette use and linkage disequilibrium that differ from patterns in other populations. Therefore, studies in African-Americans can provide complementary data to localize lung cancer susceptibility genes and explore smoking dependence-related genes. We used admixture mapping to further characterize genetic risk of lung cancer in a series of 837 African-American lung cancer cases and 975 African-American controls genotyped at 1344 ancestry informative single-nucleotide polymorphisms. Both case-only and case–control analyses were conducted using ADMIXMAP adjusted for age, sex, pack-years of smoking, family history of lung cancer, history of emphysema and study site. In case-only analyses, excess European ancestry was observed over a wide region on chromosome 1 with the largest excess seen at rs6587361 for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) (Z-score = −4.33; P = 1.5 × 10−5) and for women with NSCLC (Z-score = −4.82; P = 1.4 × 10−6). Excess African ancestry was also observed on chromosome 3q with a peak Z-score of 3.33 (P = 0.0009) at rs181696 among ever smokers with NSCLC. These results add to the findings from the GWAS in Caucasian populations and suggest novel regions of interest.
Background & Aims
Mutations in TP53, a tumor suppressor gene, are associated with prognosis of many cancers. However, the prognostic values of TP53 mutation sites are not known for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) because of heterogeneity in their geographic and etiological backgrounds.
TP53 mutations were investigated in a total of 409 HCC patients, including Chinese (n=336) and Caucasian (n=73) patients, using direct sequencing method.
A total of 125 TP53 mutations were found in Chinese patients with HCC (37.2 %). HCC patients with TP53 mutations had a shorter overall survival time compared with patients with wild-type TP53 (hazard ratio [HR], 1.86; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.37–2.52; P<0.001). The hotspot mutations R249S and V157F were significantly associated with worse prognosis in univariate (HR, 2.11; 95% CI, 1.51–2.94; P<0.001) and multivariate analyses (HR, 1.79; 95% CI, 1.29–2.51; P<0.001). Gene expression analysis revealed the existence of stem cell-like traits in tumors with TP53 mutations. These findings were validated in breast and lung tumor samples with TP53 mutations.
TP53 mutations, particularly the hotspot mutations R249S and V157F, are associated with poor prognosis for patients with HCC. The acquisition of stem cell-like gene expression traits might contribute to the aggressive behavior of tumors with TP53 mutation.
Liver cancer; p53; gene expression patterns; cancer stem cells
This study determined whether expression levels of a panel of biologically relevant microRNAs can be used as prognostic or predictive biomarkers in patients who participated in the International Adjuvant Lung Cancer Trial (IALT), the largest randomized study conducted to date of adjuvant chemotherapy in patients with radically resected non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). Expression of miR-21, miR-29b, miR-34a/b/c, miR-155 and let-7a was determined by quantitative real-time PCR in paraffin embedded formalin fixed tumor specimens from 639 IALT patients. Prognostic and predictive value of microRNA expression for survival were studied using a Cox model, which included every factor used in the stratified randomization, clinicopathological prognostic factors and other factors statistically related to microRNA expression. Investigation of the expression pattern of microRNAs in situ was performed. We also analyzed association of TP53 mutation status and miR-34a/b/c expression, EGFR and KRAS mutation status and miR-21 and Let-7a expression, respectively. Finally, association of p16 and miR-29b expression was assessed. Overall, no significant association was found between any of the tested microRNAs and survival, with the exception of miR-21 where a deleterious prognostic effect of lowered expression was suggested. Otherwise, no single or combinatorial microRNA expression profile predicted response to adjuvant cisplatin-based chemotherapy. Together, our results indicate that the miRNA expression patterns examined were neither predictive nor prognostic in a large patient cohort of radically resected NSCLC randomized to receive adjuvant cisplatin-based chemotherapy versus follow-up only.
non–small cell lung cancer; adjuvant chemotherapy; randomized trial; biomarker; drug resistance; microRNA
The role of tumor estrogen receptors (ERs) and serum estrogen in lung cancer is inconclusive. We investigated the hypothesis that ERs and functional single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the estrogen biosynthesis pathway are associated with poorer lung cancer survival. Lung cancer patients (n = 305) from a National Cancer Institute-Maryland (NCI-MD) case–case cohort in the Baltimore metropolitan area were used as a test cohort. To validate, 227 cases from the NCI-MD case–control cohort and 293 cases from a Norwegian lung cancer cohort were studied. Information on demographics, tobacco and reproductive histories was collected in an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Serum estrogen, progesterone, tumor messenger RNA expression of hormone receptors and germ line DNA polymorphisms were analyzed for associations with lung cancer survival. Patients in the highest tertile of serum estrogen had worse survival in all three cohorts (P combined < 0.001). Furthermore, the variant allele of estrogen receptor alpha (ER-α) polymorphism (rs2228480) was significantly associated with increased tumor ER-α levels and worse survival in all three cohorts [hazard ratio (HR) = 2.59, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.20– 4.01; HR = 1.76, 95% CI: 1.08–2.87 and HR = 2.85, 95% CI: 1.31–4.36). Other polymorphisms associated with lower serum estrogen correlated with improved survival. Results were independent of gender and hormone replacement therapy. We report a significant association of increased serum estrogen with poorer survival among lung cancer male and female patients. Understanding the genetic control of estrogen biosynthesis and response in lung cancer could lead to improved prognosis and therapy.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a common cancer and hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major etiological agent. Convincing epidemiological and experimental evidence also links HCC to aflatoxin, a naturally occurring mycotoxin that produces a signature p53-249ser mutation. Recently, we have reported that tumor-derived HBx variants encoded by HBV exhibited attenuated transactivation and pro-apoptotic functions, but retained their ability to block p53-mediated apoptosis. These results indicate that mutations in HBx may contribute to the development of HCC. In this study, we determined whether tumor-derived HBx mutants along, or in cooperation with p53-249ser, could alter cell proliferation and chromosome stability of normal human hepatocytes. To test this hypothesis, we established a telomerase immortalized normal human hepatocycte line HHT4 that exhibited a near diploid karyotype and expressed many hepatocyte-specific genes. We found that over-expression one of the tumor-derived HBx mutants, CT, significantly increased colony forming efficiency (CFE) while its corresponding wild-type allele CNT significantly decreased CFE in HHT4 cells. p53-249ser rescued CNT-mediated inhibition of colony formation. While HHT4 cells lacked an anchorage independent growth capability as they did not form any colonies in soft agar, the CT-expressing HHT4 cells could form colonies, which could be significantly enhanced by p53-249ser. Induction of aneuploidy could be observed in HHT4 cells expressing CT but additional recurring chromosome abnormalities could only be detected in cells coexpressing CT and p53-249ser. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that certain mutations in HBx and p53 at codon 249 may cooperate in contributing to liver carcinogenesis.
p53; HBx; cell proliferation; anchorage-independent growth
Many studies have highlighted the role that microRNAs have in physiological processes and how their deregulation can lead to cancer. More recently it has been proposed that the presence of single nucleotide polymorphisms in microRNA genes, their processing machinery and target binding sites affects cancer risk, treatment efficacy and patient prognosis. In reviewing this new field of cancer biology, we describe the methodological approaches of these studies and make recommendations for which strategies will be most informative in the future.
Esophageal cancer is one of the most aggressive and deadly forms of cancer; highlighting the need to identify biomarkers for early detection and prognostic classification. Our recent studies have identified inflammatory gene and microRNA signatures derived from tumor and nontumor tissues as prognostic biomarkers of hepatocellular, lung, and colorectal adenocarcinoma. Here, we examine the relationship between expression of these inflammatory genes and miRNA expression in esophageal adenocarcinoma and patient survival.
We measured the expression of 23 inflammation-associated genes in tumors and adjacent normal tissues from 93 patients (58 Barrett's and 35 Sporadic adenocarcinomas) by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. These data were used to build an inflammatory risk model, based on multivariate Cox regression, to predict survival in a training cohort (n=47). We then determined if this model could predict survival in a cohort of 46 patients. Expression data for miRNA-375 was available for these patients and was combined with inflammatory gene expression.
IFNγ, IL-1α, IL-8, IL-21, IL-23, and PRG expression in tumor and nontumor samples were each associated with poor prognosis based on Cox regression ([Z-score]>1.5) and therefore, were used to generate an inflammatory risk score (IRS). Patients with a high IRS had poor prognosis compared to those with a low IRS in the training (P=0.002) and test (P=0.012) cohorts. This association was stronger in the group with Barrett's history. When combining with miRNA-375, the combined IRS/miR signature was an improved prognostic classifier than either one alone.
Transcriptional profiling of inflammation-associated genes and miRNA expression in resected esophageal Barrett's associated adenocarcinoma tissues may have clinical utility as predictors of prognosis.
Inflammation; Cancer; Barrett's; Esophagus
Immunotherapy with IL-2 and anti-CD40 induces the expression of NOS2 in tumor-associated macrophages, and its expression is required for the inhibition of tumor metastasis.
Using an orthotopic model of renal cell carcinoma, we showed previously that IL-2/anti-CD40 immunotherapy resulted in synergistic anti-tumor responses, whereas IL-2 or α-CD40 alone mediated partial transient anti-tumor effects. We now show that treatment of tumor-bearing mice with IL-2/α-CD40, but not IL-2 or α-CD40, induced significant nitric oxide synthase (NOS) 2 expression in tumor-associated macrophages. In control-treated mice (low NO), NOS2 inhibition reduced tumor burden. However, during immunotherapy (high NO), NOS2 inhibition or macrophage depletion reversed the ability of IL-2/α-CD40 treatment to reduce lung metastases but had no effect on primary tumor burden. Furthermore, IL-2/α-CD40 induced the IFN-γ– and NO-dependent decrease in matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression and activity, concomitant with increases in tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP) 1 and E-cadherin expression within tumors. Finally, treatment of tumor-bearing mice with the NO donor JS-K significantly reduced metastases. These data differentiate the mechanism for primary anti-tumor effects of IL-2/α-CD40 immunotherapy, which are independent of NO, from the NO-dependent inhibition of metastases. Furthermore, reduced MMP9 activity implicates M1-polarized macrophages within the tumor microenvironment as critical components of therapeutic response. Our data demonstrate the mechanistic basis for IL-2/α-CD40–mediated control of metastases and suggest that the context-dependent application of NO donors may hold promise for prevention of metastatic disease.
Lung cancer in individuals who have never smoked tobacco products is an increasing medical and public-health issue. We aimed to unravel the genetic basis of lung cancer in never smokers.
We did a four-stage investigation. First, a genome-wide association study of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was done with 754 never smokers (377 matched case-control pairs at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA). Second, the top candidate SNPs from the first study were validated in two independent studies among 735 (MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA) and 253 (Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA) never smokers. Third, further replication of the top SNP was done in 530 never smokers (UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA). Fourth, expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) and gene-expression differences were analysed to further elucidate the causal relation between the validated SNPs and the risk of lung cancer in never smokers.
44 top candidate SNPs were identified that might alter the risk of lung cancer in never smokers. rs2352028 at chromosome 13q31.3 was subsequently replicated with an additive genetic model in the four independent studies, with a combined odds ratio of 1·46 (95% CI 1·26–1·70, p=5·94×10−6). A cis eQTL analysis showed there was a strong correlation between genotypes of the replicated SNPs and the transcription level of the gene GPC5 in normal lung tissues (p=1·96×10−4), with the high-risk allele linked with lower expression. Additionally, the transcription level of GPC5 in normal lung tissue was twice that detected in matched lung adenocarcinoma tissue (p=6·75×10−11).
Genetic variants at 13q31.3 alter the expression of GPC5, and are associated with susceptibility to lung cancer in never smokers. Downregulation of GPC5 might contribute to the development of lung cancer in never smokers.
Chronic inflammation and infection are major causes of cancer. There are continued improvements to our understanding of the molecular connections between inflammation and cancer. Key mediators of inflammation-induced cancer include nuclear factor kappa B, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, inflammatory cytokines, prostaglandins and specific microRNAs. The collective activity of these mediators is largely responsible for either a pro-tumorigenic or anti-tumorigenic inflammatory response through changes in cell proliferation, cell death, cellular senescence, DNA mutation rates, DNA methylation and angiogenesis. As our understanding grows, inflammatory mediators will provide opportunities to develop novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. In this review, we provide a general overview of the connection between inflammation, microRNAs and cancer and highlight how our improved understanding of these connections may provide novel preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic strategies to reduce the health burden of cancer.
Chronic generation of reactive nitrogen species (RNS) can cause DNA damage and may also directly modify DNA repair proteins. RNS-modified DNA is repaired predominantly by the base excision repair (BER) pathway, which includes the alkyladenine DNA glycosylase (AAG). The AAG active site contains several tyrosines and cysteines that are potential sites for modification by RNS. In vitro, we demonstrate that RNS differentially alter AAG activity depending on the site and type of modification. Nitration of tyrosine 162 impaired 1,N6-ethenoadenine (εA)-excision activity, whereas nitrosation of cysteine 167 increased εA excision. To understand the effects of RNS on BER in vivo, we examined intestinal adenomas for levels of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and AAG. A striking correlation between AAG and iNOS expression was observed (r = 0.76, P = 0.00002). Interestingly, there was no correlation between changes in AAG levels and enzymatic activity. We found AAG to be nitrated in human adenomas, suggesting that this RNS modification is relevant in the human disease. Expression of key downstream components of BER, apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1 (APE1) and DNA polymerase β (POLβ), was also examined. POLβ protein was increased in nearly all adenomas compared with adjacent non-tumor tissues, whereas APE1 expression was only increased in approximately half of the adenomas and also was relocalized to the cytoplasm in adenomas. Collectively, the results suggest that BER is dysregulated in colon adenomas. RNS-induced posttranslational modification of AAG is one mechanism of BER dysregulation, and the type of modification may define the role of AAG during carcinogenesis.
High levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) have been associated with a significant increase in colon cancer risk. Additionally, IGF-1 inhibits apoptosis and stimulates proliferation of colonic epithelial cells in vitro. Unfortunately, IGF-1 knockout mice have severe developmental abnormalities and most do not survive, making it difficult to study how genetic ablation of IGF-1 affects colon tumorigenesis. To test the hypothesis that inhibition of IGF-1 prevents colon tumorigenesis, we utilized a preexisting mouse model containing a deletion of the igf1 gene in the liver through a Cre/loxP system. These liver-specific IGF-1 deficient (LID) mice display a 50–75% reduction in circulating IGF-1 levels. We conducted a pilot study to assess the impact of liver-specific IGF-1 deficiency on azoxymethane (AOM)-induced colon tumors. LID mice had a significant inhibition of colon tumor multiplicity in the proximal area of the colon compared to their wild-type littermates. We examined markers of proliferation and apoptosis in the colons of the LID and wild-type mice to see if these were consistent with tumorigenesis. We observed a decrease in proliferation in the colons of the LID mice and an increase in apoptosis. Finally, we examined cytokine levels to determine whether IGF-1 interacts with inflammatory pathways to affect colon tumorigenesis. We observed a significant reduction in the levels of 7 out of 10 cytokines that were measured in the LID mice as compared to wild-type littermates. Results from this pilot study support the hypothesis that reductions in circulating IGF-1 levels may prevent colon tumorigenesis and affect both proliferation and apoptosis. Future experiments will investigate downstream genes of the IGF-1 receptor.
IGF-1; colon; azoxymethane
The majority of lung cancers are caused by long term exposure to the several classes of carcinogens present in tobacco smoke. While a significant fraction of lung cancers in never smokers may also be attributable to tobacco, many such cancers arise in the absence of detectable tobacco exposure, and may follow a very different cellular and molecular pathway of malignant transformation. Recent studies summarized here suggest that lung cancers arising in never smokers have a distinct natural history, profile of oncogenic mutations, and response to targeted therapy. The majority of molecular analyses of lung cancer have focused on genetic profiling of pathways responsible for metabolism of primary tobacco carcinogens. Limited research has been conducted evaluating familial aggregation and genetic linkage of lung cancer, particularly among never smokers in whom such associations might be expected to be strongest. Data emerging over the past several years demonstrates that lung cancers in never smokers are much more likely to carry activating mutations of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR), a key oncogenic factor and direct therapeutic target of several newer anti-cancer drugs. EGFR mutant lung cancers may represent a distinct class of lung cancers, enriched in the never smoking population, and less clearly linked to direct tobacco carcinogenesis. These insights followed initial testing and demonstration of efficacy of EGFR-targeted drugs. Focused analysis of molecular carcinogenesis in lung cancers in never smokers is needed, and may provide additional biologic insight with therapeutic implications for lung cancers in both ever smokers and never smokers.