Smoking and alcohol consumption explain little of the risk for upper-gastrointestinal (UGI) cancer in China, where over half of all cases in the world occur.
We evaluated questionnaire-based risk factors for UGI cancers in a case-control study from Shanxi Province, China, including 600 esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCC), 599 gastric cardia adenocarcinomas (GCA), 316 gastric noncardia adenocarcinomas (GNCA), and 1514 age- and gender-matched controls.
Ever smoking and ever use of any alcohol were not associated with risk of UGI cancer; only modest associations were observed between ESCC risk and highest cumulative smoking exposure, as well as GNCA risk and beer drinking. While several associations were noted for socioeconomic and some dietary variables with one or two UGI cancers, the strongest and most consistent relations for all three individual UGI cancers were observed for consumption of scalding hot foods (risk increased 150% to 219% for daily vs never users) and fresh vegetables and fruits (risk decreased 48% to 70% for vegetables and 46% to 68% for fruits, respectively, for high vs low quartiles).
This study confirms the minor role of tobacco and alcohol in UGI cancers in this region, and highlights thermal damage as a leading etiologic factor.
smoking; alcohol; socioeconomic status; diet
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is an aggressive tumor with poor prognosis. Understanding molecular changes in ESCC will enable identification of molecular subtypes and provide potential targets for early detection and therapy.
We followed up a previous array study with additional discovery and confirmatory studies in new ESCC cases using alternative methods. We profiled global gene expression for discovery and confirmation, and validated selected dysregulated genes with additional RNA and protein studies.
A total of 159 genes showed differences with extreme statistical significance (P
We identified an expanded panel of genes dysregulated in ESCC and confirmed previously identified differentially-expressed genes. Microarray-based gene expression results were confirmed by RT-PCR and protein expression studies. These dysregulated genes will facilitate molecular categorization of tumor subtypes and identification of their risk factors, and serve as potential targets for early detection, outcome prediction, and therapy.
esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC); Affymetrix oligomicroarray; RT-PCR; tissue microarray (TMA)
Common genetic variants mapping to two distinct regions of RAD51B, a paralog of RAD51, have been associated with breast cancer risk in genome-wide association studies (GWAS). RAD51B is a plausible candidate gene because of its established role in the homologous recombination (HR) process. How germline genetic variation in RAD51B confers susceptibility to breast cancer is not well understood. Here, we investigate the molecular function of RAD51B in breast cancer cell lines by knocking down RAD51B expression by small interfering RNA and treating cells with DNA-damaging agents, namely cisplatin, hydroxyurea, or methyl-methanesulfonate. Our results show that RAD51B-depleted breast cancer cells have increased sensitivity to DNA damage, reduced efficiency of HR, and altered cell cycle checkpoint responses. The influence of RAD51B on the cell cycle checkpoint is independent of its role in HR and further studies are required to determine whether these functions can explain the RAD51B breast cancer susceptibility alleles.
RAD51B; breast cancer; DNA damage; homologous recombination
Background & Aims
Diet could affect risk for esophageal and gastric cancers, but associations have been inconsistent. The diet is complex, so studies of dietary patterns, rather than studies of individual foods, might be more likely to identify cancer risk factors. There is limited research on index-based dietary patterns and esophageal and gastric cancers. We prospectively evaluated associations between the Healthy Eating Index-2005 (HEI-2005) and alternate Mediterranean Diet (aMED) scores and risk of esophageal and gastric cancers.
We analyzed data from 494,968 participants in the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-AARP Diet and Health study, in which AARP members (51–70 y old) completed a self-administered baseline food frequency questionnaire between 1995 and 1996. Their answers were used to estimate scores for each index.
During the follow-up period (1995–2006), participants developed 215 esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCCs), 633 esophageal adenocarcinomas (EACs), 453 gastric cardia adenocarcinomas, and 501 gastric non-cardia adenocarcinomas. Higher scores from the HEI-2005 were associated with a reduced risk of ESCC (comparing the highest quintile with the lowest: hazard ratio [HR], 0.51; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.31–0.86; Ptrend=.001) and EAC (HR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.57–0.98; Ptrend=.01). We observed an inverse association between ESCC, but not EAC, and higher aMED score (meaning a higher-quality diet). HEI-2005 and aMED scores were not significantly associated with gastric cardia or noncardia adenocarcinomas.
Using data collected from 1995 through 2006 from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, HEI-2005 and aMED scores were inversely associated with risk for esophageal cancers—particularly ESCC. Adherence to dietary recommendations might help prevent esophageal cancers.
food habits; esophageal neoplasms; stomach neoplasms
The DNA repair pathways help to maintain genomic integrity and therefore genetic variation in the pathways could affect the propensity to develop cancer. Selected germline single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the pathways have been associated with esophageal cancer and gastric cancer (GC) but few studies have comprehensively examined the pathway genes. We aimed to investigate associations between DNA repair pathway genes and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and GC, using data from a genome-wide association study in a Han Chinese population where ESCC and GC are the predominant cancers. In sum, 1942 ESCC cases, 1758 GC cases and 2111 controls from the Shanxi Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Genetics Project (discovery set) and the Linxian Nutrition Intervention Trials (replication set) were genotyped for 1675 SNPs in 170 DNA repair-related genes. Logistic regression models were applied to evaluate SNP-level associations. Gene- and pathway-level associations were determined using the resampling-based adaptive rank-truncated product approach. The DNA repair pathways overall were significantly associated with risk of ESCC (P = 6.37 × 10−
4), but not with GC (P = 0.20). The most significant gene in ESCC was CHEK2 (P = 2.00 × 10−
6) and in GC was CLK2 (P = 3.02 × 10−
4). We observed several other genes significantly associated with either ESCC (SMUG1, TDG, TP53, GTF2H3, FEN1, POLQ, HEL308, RAD54B, MPG, FANCE and BRCA1) or GC risk (MRE11A, RAD54L and POLE) (P < 0.05). We provide evidence for an association between specific genes in the DNA repair pathways and the risk of ESCC and GC. Further studies are warranted to validate these associations and to investigate underlying mechanisms.
Stroke is the leading cause of death in Linxian, China. Although there is evidence of DNA damage in experimental stroke, no data exist on DNA repair and stroke in human populations.
To assess the risk of stroke conferred by polymorphisms in the DNA repair genes, XRCC1, XPD23 and APE/ref‐1 in a cohort of individuals originally assembled as subjects in two cancer prevention trials in Linxian, China.
The subjects for this prospective study were sampled from a cohort of 4005 eligible subjects who were alive and cancer free in 1991 and had blood samples available for DNA extraction. Using real‐time Taqman analyses, all incident cases of stroke (n = 118) that developed from May 1996, and an age‐ and a sex‐stratified random sample (n = 454) drawn from all eligible subjects were genotyped. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate relative risks (RRs) and 95% CIs.
No association was observed between polymorphisms in APE/ref‐1 codon 148 and XRCC1*6 codon 194, and stroke. Polymorphisms in XRCC1*10 codon 399 were associated with a significantly reduced risk of stroke (RR 0.59, 95% CI 0.36 to 0.96, p = 0.033), whereas XPD23 codon 312 was associated with a significantly increased risk of stroke (RR 2.18, 95% CI 1.14 to 4.17, p = 0.010).
Polymorphisms in DNA repair genes may be important in the aetiology of stroke. These data should stimulate research on DNA damage and repair in stroke.
Genomic instability plays an important role in most human cancers. To characterize genomic instability in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), we examined loss of heterozygosity (LOH), copy number (CN) loss, CN gain, and gene expression using the Affymetrix GeneChip Human Mapping 500K (n=30 cases) and Human U133A (n=17 cases) arrays in ESCC cases from a high-risk region of China. We found that genomic instability measures varied widely among cases and separated them into two groups: a high-frequency instability group (two-thirds of all cases with one or more instability category ≥ 10%) and a low-frequency instability group (one-third of cases with instability < 10%). Genomic instability also varied widely across chromosomal arms, with the highest frequency of LOH on 9p (33% of informative single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)), CN loss on 3p (33%), and CN gain on 3q (48%). Twenty-two LOH regions were identified: four on 9p, seven on 9q, four on 13q, two on 17p, and five on 17q. Three CN loss regions – 3p12.3, 4p15.1, and 9p21.3 – were detected. Twelve CN gain regions were found, including six on 3q, one on 7q, four on 8q, and one on 11q. One of the most gene-rich of these CN gain regions was 11q13.1-13.4, where 26 genes also had RNA expression data available. CN gain was significantly correlated with increased RNA expression in over 80% of these genes. Our findings demonstrate the potential utility of combining CN analysis and gene expression data to identify genes involved in esophageal carcinogenesis.
esophageal cancer; LOH; copy number alteration; 500K SNP array
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) likely play a role in many cancers even in never-smokers. We tried to find a model to explain the relationship between variation in PAH-related DNA adduct levels among people with similar exposures, multiple genetic polymorphisms in genes related to metabolic and repair pathways, and nucleotide excision repair (NER) capacity. In 111 randomly-selected female never-smokers from the Golestan Cohort Study in Iran, we evaluated 21 SNPs in 14 genes related to xenobiotic metabolism and 12 SNPs in 8 DNA repair genes. NER capacity was evaluated by a modified comet assay, and aromatic DNA adduct levels were measured in blood by 32P-postlabelling. Multivariable regression models were compared by Akaike’s information criterion (AIC). Aromatic DNA adduct levels ranged between 1.7 and 18.6 per 108 nucleotides (mean: 5.8±3.1). DNA adduct level was significantly lower in homozygotes for NAT2 slow alleles and ERCC5 non risk-allele genotype, and was higher in the MPO homozygote risk-allele genotype. The sum of risk alleles in these genes significantly correlated with the log-adduct level (r=0.4, p<0.001). Compared with the environmental model, adding phase I SNPs and NER capacity provided the best fit, and could explain 17% more of the variation in adduct levels. NER capacity was affected by polymorphisms in the MTHFR and ERCC1 genes. Female non-smokers in this population had PAH-related DNA adduct levels 3-4 times higher than smokers and occupationally-exposed groups in previous studies, with large inter-individual variation which could best be explained by a combination of phase I genes and NER capacity.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; DNA adducts; nucleotide excision repair; polymorphism
Tissue-resident macrophages are a heterogeneous population of immune cells that fulfill tissue-specific and niche-specific functions. These range from dedicated homeostatic functions, such as clearance of cellular debris and iron processing, to central roles in tissue immune-surveillance, response to infection and the resolution of inflammation. Recent studies highlight marked heterogeneity in the origins of tissue macrophages that arise from hematopoietic versus self-renewing embryo-derived populations. We discuss the tissue–niche-specific factors that dictate cell phenotype, the definition of which will allow novel strategies to promote the restoration of tissue homeostasis. Understanding the mechanisms that dictate tissue macrophage heterogeneity should explain why simplified paradigms of macrophage activation do not explain the extent of heterogeneity seen in vivo.
The General Population Nutrition Intervention Trial was a randomized primary esophageal and gastric cancer prevention trial conducted from 1985 to 1991, in which 29 584 adult participants in Linxian, China, were given daily vitamin and mineral supplements. Treatment with “factor D,” a combination of 50 μg selenium, 30 mg vitamin E, and 15 mg beta-carotene, led to decreased mortality from all causes, cancer overall, and gastric cancer. Here, we present 10-year follow-up after the end of active intervention.
Participants were assessed by periodic data collection, monthly visits by village health workers, and quarterly review of the Linxian Cancer Registry. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the cumulative effects of four vitamin and mineral supplementation regimens were calculated using adjusted proportional hazards models.
Through May 31, 2001, 276 participants were lost to follow-up; 9727 died, including 3242 from cancer (1515 from esophageal cancer and 1199 from gastric cancer). Participants who received factor D had lower overall mortality (HR = 0.95, 95% CI = 0.91 to 0.99; P = .009; reduction in cumulative mortality from 33.62% to 32.19%) and gastric cancer mortality (HR = 0.89, 95% CI = 0.79 to 1.00; P = .043; reduction in cumulative gastric cancer mortality from 4.28% to 3.84%) than subjects who did not receive factor D. Reductions were mostly attributable to benefits to subjects younger than 55 years. Esophageal cancer deaths between those who did and did not receive factor D were not different overall; however, decreased 17% among participants younger than 55 (HR = 0.83, 95% CI = 0.71 to 0.98; P = .025) but increased 14% among those aged 55 years or older (HR = 1.14, 95% CI = 1.00 to 1.30; P = .47). Vitamin A and zinc supplementation was associated with increased total and stroke mortality; vitamin C and molybdenum supplementation, with decreased stroke mortality.
The beneficial effects of selenium, vitamin E, and beta-carotene on mortality were still evident up to 10 years after the cessation of supplementation and were consistently greater in younger participants. Late effects of other supplementation regimens were also observed.
In China, esophageal cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death where essentially all cases are histologically esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), in contrast to esophageal adenocarcinoma in the West. Globally, ESCC is 2.4 times more common among men than women and recently it has been suggested that sex hormones may be associated with the risk of ESCC. We examined the association between genetic variants in sex hormone metabolic genes and ESCC risk in a population from north central China with high-incidence rates. A total of 1026 ESCC cases and 1452 controls were genotyped for 797 unique tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 51 sex hormone metabolic genes. SNP-, gene- and pathway-based associations with ESCC risk were evaluated using unconditional logistic regression adjusted for age, sex and geographical location and the adaptive rank truncated product (ARTP) method. Statistical significance was determined through use of permutation for pathway- and gene-based associations. No associations were observed for the overall sex hormone metabolic pathway (P = 0.14) or subpathways (androgen synthesis: P = 0.30, estrogen synthesis: P = 0.15 and estrogen removal: P = 0.19) with risk of ESCC. However, six individual genes (including SULT2B1, CYP1B1, CYP3A7, CYP3A5, SHBG and CYP11A1) were significantly associated with ESCC risk (P < 0.05). Our examination of genetic variation in the sex hormone metabolic pathway is consistent with a potential association with risk of ESCC. These positive findings warrant further evaluation in relation to ESCC risk and replication in other populations.
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
The granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) is a hematopoietic cytokine able to regulate a variety of cell functions including differentiation of macrophages and granulocytes, dendritic cell development and the maintenance of homeostasis. It binds specifically to its receptor, which is composed of a cytokine-specific α-chain (GM-CSF receptor α-chain, GMRα) and a β-chain shared with the receptors for interleukin-3 and interleukin-5. In this report, we present a comprehensive study of GMRα in the mouse. We have found that the mouse GMRα is polymorphic and alternatively spliced. In the absence of specific antibodies, we generated a novel chimeric protein containing the Fc fragment of human IgG1 coupled to mouse GM-CSF, which was able to specifically bind to GMRα and induce proliferation of GMRα-transduced Ba/F3 cells. We used this reagent to perform the first detailed FACS study of the surface expression of mouse GMRα by leucocytes. Highest expression was found on monocytes and granulocytes, and variable expression on tissue macrophages. The GM-CSF receptor in mice is specifically expressed by myeloid cells and is useful for the detection of novel uncharacterised myeloid populations. The ability to detect GM-CSF receptor expression in experimental studies should greatly facilitate the analysis of its role in immune pathologies.
Cell proliferation; Cytokines; Inflammation; Macrophages; Neutrophils
During primary infection, murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) spreads systemically, resulting in virus replication and pathology in multiple organs. This disseminated infection is ultimately controlled, but the underlying immune defense mechanisms are unclear. Investigating the role of the cytokine IL-22 in MCMV infection, we discovered an unanticipated function for neutrophils as potent antiviral effector cells that restrict viral replication and associated pathogenesis in peripheral organs. NK-, NKT-, and T cell-secreted IL-22 orchestrated antiviral neutrophil-mediated responses via induction in stromal nonhematopoietic tissue of the neutrophil-recruiting chemokine CXCL1. The antiviral effector properties of infiltrating neutrophils were directly linked to the expression of TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). Our data identify a role for neutrophils in antiviral defense, and establish a functional link between IL-22 and the control of antiviral neutrophil responses that prevents pathogenic herpesvirus infection in peripheral organs.
•Neutrophils are critical antiviral effector cells during MCMV virus infection•Neutrophils directly inhibit virus replication in a TRAIL-dependent manner•IL-22 inhibits virus replication in peripheral but not secondary lymphoid tissues•IL-22 orchestrates CXCL1-dependent neutrophil recruitment
Murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) targets multiple peripheral organs during infection. Stacey et al. report that in response to MCMV infection, NK, NKT, and T cells secrete the cytokine IL-22, which recruits antiviral neutrophils to infected peripheral organs in a CXCL1-dependent manner. Neutrophils exert antiviral effector functions via proapoptotic TRAIL expression.
Barrett's esophagus (BE) is a metaplastic precursor lesion of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EA), the most rapidly increasing cancer in western societies. While the prevalence of BE is increasing, the vast majority of EA occurs in patients with undiagnosed BE. Thus, we sought to identify genes that are altered in BE compared to the normal mucosa of the esophagus, and which may be potential biomarkers for the development or diagnosis of BE.
We performed gene expression analysis using HG-U133A Affymetrix chips on fresh frozen tissue samples of Barrett's metaplasia and matched normal mucosa from squamous esophagus (NE) and gastric cardia (NC) in 40 BE patients.
Using a cut off of 2-fold and P<1.12E-06 (0.05 with Bonferroni correction), we identified 1324 differentially-expressed genes comparing BE vs NE and 649 differentially-expressed genes comparing BE vs NC. Except for individual genes such as the SOXs and PROM1 that were dysregulated only in BE vs NE, we found a subset of genes (n = 205) whose expression was significantly altered in both BE vs NE and BE vs NC. These genes were overrepresented in different pathways, including TGF-β and Notch.
Our findings provide additional data on the global transcriptome in BE tissues compared to matched NE and NC tissues which should promote further understanding of the functions and regulatory mechanisms of genes involved in BE development, as well as insight into novel genes that may be useful as potential biomarkers for the diagnosis of BE in the future.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) accounts for 80% of all esophageal cancers worldwide, and esophageal squamous dysplasia (ESD) is the only histopathology that predicts the development of ESCC. The prevalence of ESD parallels rates of invasive ESCC, and is typically found in 25% or more of adults above the age of 35 years in populations in north central China, where risk for ESCC is among the highest in the world. Results of chemoprevention and early detection studies to prevent progression of ESD suggest that these approaches, coupled with emerging endoscopic therapies, offer promise for the prevention of esophageal cancer mortality in high-risk populations. Future research on ESD and ESCC should focus on finding additional modifiable risk factors and on identifying biomarkers to incorporate into early detection strategies.
Imaging strategies that detect early-stage esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) could improve clinical outcomes, combined with endoscopic approaches. Periostin is an integrin-binding protein that is important in the tumor microenvironment. We created a fluorescent-labeled antibody that recognizes periostin and binds specifically to ESCC xenograft tumors in mice. In L2-cre;p120ctnLoxP/LoxP mice, which develop squamous cell cancers that resemble human ESCC, we visualized the probe in preneoplastic and neoplastic esophageal lesions using near-infrared fluorescent imaging with upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. Periostin might be a biomarker of the esophageal tumor microenvironment that can be used to detect preneoplastic lesions.
mouse model; neoplasm; extracellular matrix; POSTN
Fibrosis in response to tissue damage or persistent inflammation is a pathological hallmark of many chronic degenerative diseases. By using a model of acute peritoneal inflammation, we have examined how repeated inflammatory activation promotes fibrotic tissue injury. In this context, fibrosis was strictly dependent on interleukin-6 (IL-6). Repeat inflammation induced IL-6-mediated T helper 1 (Th1) cell effector commitment and the emergence of STAT1 (signal transducer and activator of transcription-1) activity within the peritoneal membrane. Fibrosis was not observed in mice lacking interferon-γ (IFN-γ), STAT1, or RAG-1. Here, IFN-γ and STAT1 signaling disrupted the turnover of extracellular matrix by metalloproteases. Whereas IL-6-deficient mice resisted fibrosis, transfer of polarized Th1 cells or inhibition of MMP activity reversed this outcome. Thus, IL-6 causes compromised tissue repair by shifting acute inflammation into a more chronic profibrotic state through induction of Th1 cell responses as a consequence of recurrent inflammation.
•Repeated acute resolving inflammation leads to excessive tissue damage•IL-6 regulates profibrotic IFN-γ-secreting T cells•IFN-γ increases detrimental STAT1 signaling in stromal tissue•STAT1 activity alters homeostatic control of extracellular matrix to promote fibrosis
Balancing the generation of immune responses capable of controlling virus replication with those causing immunopathology is critical for the survival of the host and resolution of influenza-induced inflammation. Based on the capacity of interleukin-6 (IL-6) to govern both optimal T-cell responses and inflammatory resolution, we hypothesised that IL-6 plays an important role in maintaining this balance. Comparison of innate and adaptive immune responses in influenza-infected wild-type control and IL-6 deficient mice revealed striking differences in virus clearance, lung immunopathology and generation of heterosubtypic immunity. Mice lacking IL-6 displayed a profound defect in their ability to mount an anti-viral T-cell response. Failure to adequately control virus was further associated with an enhanced infiltration of inflammatory monocytes into the lung and an elevated production of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IFN-α and TNF-α. These events were associated with severe lung damage, characterised by profound vascular leakage, and death. Our data highlight an essential role for IL-6 in orchestrating anti-viral immunity through an ability to limit inflammation, promote protective adaptive immune responses and prevent fatal immunopathology.
Adaptive Immunity; Heterosubtypic Immunity; IL-6; Innate Immunity; Pulmonary Damage
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