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1.  PAH exposure in esophageal tissue and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in northeastern Iran 
Gut  2010;59(9):1178-1183.
Objective
To evaluate the association of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure in esophageal epithelial tissue and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) case status in an ESCC case-control study in a high-risk population in northeastern Iran.
Design
Immunohistochemical staining of tissue microarrays (TMAs) of non-tumoral esophageal biopsies from ESCC cases and control subjects. Immunohistochemistry was performed using monoclonal antibodies 8E11 and 5D11, raised against benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) diol epoxide (BPDE)-I-modified guanosine and BPDE-I-modified DNA, respectively. Staining intensity was quantified by image analysis, and the average staining in three replicates was calculated.
Setting
Rural region in northeastern Iran.
Participants
Cases were patients with biopsy-proven ESCC. Controls were GI clinic patients with no endoscopic or biopsy evidence of ESCC.
Main outcome measure
Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) for the association between antibody staining intensity and ESCC case status.
Results
Cultured ESCC cells exposed to B[a]P in vitro showed dose-dependent staining with 8E11, but not with 5D11. With 8E11, sufficient epithelial tissue was available in the TMA cores to analyze 91 cases and 103 controls. Compared to the lowest quintile of 8E11 staining in the controls, adjusted ORs (95% CIs) for the 2nd to 5th quintiles were 2.42, 5.77, 11.3, and 26.6 (5.21–135), respectively (P for trend < 0.001). With 5D11, 89 cases and 101 controls were analyzed. No association between staining and case status was observed (ORs (95% CIs) for the 2nd to 5th quintiles were 1.26, 0.88, 1.06, and 1.63 (0.63–4.21), P for trend = 0.40).
Conclusions
Dramatically higher levels of 8E11 staining were observed in non-tumoral esophageal epithelium from ESCC patients than from control subjects. This finding strengthens the evidence for a causal role for PAHs in esophageal carcinogenesis in northeastern Iran.
doi:10.1136/gut.2010.210609
PMCID: PMC3505022  PMID: 20584779
esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; immunohistochemistry; tissue microarray
2.  Serum ghrelin is inversely associated with risk of subsequent oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Gut  2011;61(11):1533-1537.
Background
Oesophageal cancers rank as the eighth most common cancer and the sixth most common cause of cancer death, worldwide. Gastric atrophy, as determined by a low serum pepsinogen I/II ratio, may be associated with an increased risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Ghrelin, a hormone which, like pepsinogen, is produced in the fundic glands of the stomach, may be a sensitive and specific marker of gastric atrophy, but its association with OSCC is not known.
Methods
To examine the relationship between baseline serum ghrelin concentration and subsequent risk of OSCC, we conducted a nested case-control study within the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention (ATBC) Study. 82 cases of OSCC were matched (1:1) by age and date of blood draw to controls from the ATBC study. Serum ghrelin was measured by radioimmunoassay. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated using conditional logistic regression with adjustment for potential confounders.
Results
For those individuals in the lowest quartile of serum ghrelin, compared to those in the highest, the multivariate odds ratio of subsequent OSCC was 6.83 (95% CI: 1.46, 31.84). These associations were dose dependent (P for trend = 0.005 for both), and independent of the effects of low pepsinogen I/II ratio (a marker of gastric fundic atrophy) and Helicobacter pylori infection. The significance of these associations remained even for individuals developing OSCC up to 10 years after baseline ghrelin measurement, though they become attenuated after 10 years.
Conclusion
Lower baseline concentrations of serum ghrelin were associated with an increase in risk of OSCC. Further studies are needed to confirm this finding in other populations and to explore the role of ghrelin in the aetiology of OSCC.
doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2011-300653
PMCID: PMC3462270  PMID: 22180062
ghrelin; oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma; atrophy
3.  Prospective Study of Serum Cysteine Levels and Oesophageal and Gastric Cancers in China 
Gut  2011;60(5):618-623.
Background
Cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract remain a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. Cysteine, known to be involved in a myriad of immuno-modulatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-carcinogenic pathways, has not been investigated in the aetiology of oesophageal or gastric cancers. To examine the relationship between serum cysteine concentration and risk of these cancers we conducted a nested case-cohort study within the General Population Nutrition Intervention Trial in Linxian, China.
Methods
498 oesophageal squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC) and 255 gastric cardia adenocarcinomas (GCA) were matched by age and sex to 947 individuals from the wider cohort. We calculated hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) using the case-cohort estimator for the Cox proportional hazards models, stratified on age and sex, with adjustment for potential confounders.
Results
Higher concentrations of serum cysteine were significantly associated with a lower risk of both OSCC and GCA. For those in the highest quartile of serum cysteine, compared to those in the lowest, the multivariate HRs were 0.70 for OSCC (95% CI: 0.51, 0.98) and 0.59 for GCA (95% CI: 0.38, 0.91). These associations were dose dependent (P for trend = 0.006 and 0.008, respectively). These inverse associations were not significantly modified by other risk factors, with the exception of age, where a stronger association was noted among persons in the older age strata.
Conclusion
Higher serum concentrations of cysteine were associated with a significantly reduced risk of OSCC and GCA. Cysteine should be further investigated for its potential as a chemopreventive agent for upper gastrointestinal cancers.
doi:10.1136/gut.2010.225854
PMCID: PMC3428021  PMID: 21242262
oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma; gastric cardia cancer; hazard ratio; cysteine
4.  Serum pepsinogens and risk of gastric and esophageal cancers in the General Population Nutrition Intervention Trial cohort 
Gut  2009;58(5):636-642.
Objective
Low serum pepsinogen I (PGI) and low pepsinogen I/pepsinogen II ratio (PGI/II ratio) are markers of gastric fundic atrophy. We aimed to prospectively test the association between serum PGI/II ratio and risks of gastric noncardia adenocarcinoma, gastric cardia adenocarcinoma, and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
Design
Case-cohort study nested in a prospective cohort with over 15 years of follow-up.
Setting
Rural region of the People’s Republic of China.
Subjects
Men and women aged 40-69 at study baseline.
Main outcome measures
Adjusted hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the association between serum PGI/II ratio and caner risk
Results
Compared to subjects with PGI/II ratio of > 4, those with ≤4 had HRs (95%CIs) of 2.72 (1.77-4.20) and 2.12 (1.42-3.16) for noncardia and cardia gastric cancers, respectively. Risk of both cancers were also increased when other cut points ranging from 3 to 6, or when we used quartile models, or nonlinear continuous models. Risk of ESCC was marginally increased in those with PGI/II ratio ≤4, with HR (95% CI) of 1.56 (0.99-2.47), but quartile models and continuous models showed no increased risk. The nonlinear continuous models suggested that any single cut point collapsed subjects with dissimilar gastric cancer risks, and that using cut points was not an efficient use of data in evaluating these associations.
Conclusion
In this prospective study, we found similar and significantly increased risks of noncardia and cardia gastric adenocarcinomas in subjects with low PGI/II ratio, but little evidence for an association with ESCC risk.
doi:10.1136/gut.2008.168641
PMCID: PMC2792746  PMID: 19136509
Gastric cancer; Esophageal cancer; Pepsinogen; Case-cohort

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