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1.  The CHRNA5-A3 Region on Chromosome 15q24-25.1 Is a Risk Factor Both for Nicotine Dependence and for Lung Cancer 
Common variants in the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor gene cluster on chromosome 15q24-25.1 were associated with lung cancer risk in three recently published independently conducted genome-wide association studies, with no consensus as to the relative impact of the variants on the propensity to smoke vs a direct carcinogenic effect. To further explore our hypothesis that these variants are indeed associated with both cancer causation and nicotine dependence, we performed a more detailed analysis of the association of these putative risk genotypes with smoking phenotype, as well as in lifetime never smokers, and in other smoking-related cancers. We demonstrate a statistically significant association of the variants with both nicotine dependence, as well as lung cancer phenotypes, including earlier age at lung cancer onset. The variants were associated with higher risks of lung cancer in lower smoking-exposed strata, and in individuals with a strong family history of lung or smoking-related cancers. In contrast, we found no evidence that the variants were associated with elevated risks in 547 lifetime never-smoking lung cancer case subjects, nor in other smoking-related cancers (bladder and renal). Thus, we conclude that the variants are implicated both in smoking behavior and more directly in lung cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC2720751  PMID: 18957677
2.  Common genetic variants in cell cycle pathway are associated with survival in stage III–IV non-small-cell lung cancer 
Carcinogenesis  2011;32(12):1867-1871.
Cell cycle progression contributes to the cellular response to DNA-damaging factors, such as chemotherapy and radiation. We hypothesized that the genetic variations in cell cycle pathway genes may modulate treatment responses and affect survival in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We genotyped 374 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 49 cell cycle-related genes in 598 patients with stages III–IV NSCLC treated with first-line platinum-based chemotherapy with/without radiation. We analyzed the individual and combined associations of these SNPs with survival and evaluated their gene–gene interactions using survival tree analysis. In the analysis of survival in all the patients, 39 SNPs reached nominal significance (P < 0.05) and 4 SNPs were significant at P <0.01. However, none of these SNPs remained significant after correction for multiple comparisons at a false discovery rate of 10%. In stratified analysis by treatment modality, after adjusting for multiple comparisons, nine SNPs in chemotherapy alone and one SNP in chemoradiation remained significant. The most significant SNP in chemotherapy group was CCNB2:rs1486878 [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.69, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.25–2.30, P = 0.001]. TP73: rs3765701 was the only significant SNP in chemoradiation group (HR = 1.87; 95% CI = 1.35–2.59, P = 1.8 × 10−4). In cumulative analysis, we found a significant gene-dosage effect in patients receiving chemotherapy alone. Survival tree analysis demonstrated potential higher order gene–gene and gene–treatment interactions, which could be used to predict survival status based on distinct genetic signatures. These results suggest that genetic variations in cell cycle pathway genes may affect the survival of patients with stages III–IV NSCLC individually and jointly.
PMCID: PMC3220611  PMID: 21965272
3.  Genetic variations in the transforming growth factor-beta pathway as predictors of survival in advanced non-small cell lung cancer 
Carcinogenesis  2011;32(7):1050-1056.
The magnitude of benefit is variable for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients receiving platinum-based chemotherapy. The purpose of this study is to determine whether genetic variations in the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) pathway are associated with clinical outcomes in NSCLC patients receiving first-line platinum-based chemotherapy. Five hundred and ninety-eight advanced-stage NSCLC patients who received first-line platinum-based chemotherapy with or without radiotherapy were recruited at the MD Anderson Cancer Center between 1995 and 2007. DNA from blood was genotyped for 227 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 23 TGF-β pathway-related genes to evaluate their associations with overall survival. In individual SNP analysis, 22 variants were significantly associated with overall survival, of which the strongest associations were found for BMP2:rs235756 [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.45; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.11–1.90] and SMAD3:rs4776342 (HR = 1.25; 95% CI, 1.06–1.47). Fifteen and 18 genetic loci displayed treatment-specific associations for chemotherapy and chemoradiation, respectively, identifying a majority of the cases who would be predicted to respond favorably to a specific treatment regimen. BMP2:rs235753 and a haplotype in SMAD3 were associated with overall survival for both treatment modalities. Cumulative effect analysis showed that multiple risk genotypes had a significant dose-dependent effect on overall survival (Ptrend = 2.44 x 10−15). Survival tree analysis identified subgroups of patients with dramatically different median survival times of 45.39 versus 13.55 months and 18.02 versus 5.89 months for high- and low- risk populations when treated with chemoradiation and chemotherapy, respectively. These results suggest that genetic variations in the TGF-β pathway are potential predictors of overall survival in NSCLC patients treated with platinum-based chemotherapy with or without radiation.
PMCID: PMC3128559  PMID: 21515830
4.  Genome-Wide Association Study of Survival in Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients Receiving Platinum-Based Chemotherapy 
Interindividual variation in genetic background may influence the response to chemotherapy and overall survival for patients with advanced-stage non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
To identify genetic variants associated with poor overall survival in these patients, we conducted a genome-wide scan of 307 260 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 327 advanced-stage NSCLC patients who received platinum-based chemotherapy with or without radiation at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (the discovery population). A fast-track replication was performed for 315 patients from the Mayo Clinic followed by a second validation at the University of Pittsburgh in 420 patients enrolled in the Spanish Lung Cancer Group PLATAX clinical trial. A pooled analysis combining the Mayo Clinic and PLATAX populations or all three populations was also used to validate the results. We assessed the association of each SNP with overall survival by multivariable Cox proportional hazard regression analysis. All statistical tests were two-sided.
SNP rs1878022 in the chemokine-like receptor 1 (CMKLR1) was statistically significantly associated with poor overall survival in the MD Anderson discovery population (hazard ratio [HR] of death = 1.59, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.32 to 1.92, P = 1.42 × 10−6), in the PLATAX clinical trial (HR of death = 1.23, 95% CI = 1.00 to 1.51, P = .05), in the pooled Mayo Clinic and PLATAX validation (HR of death = 1.22, 95% CI = 1.06 to 1.40, P = .005), and in pooled analysis of all three populations (HR of death = 1.33, 95% CI = 1.19 to 1.48, P = 5.13 × 10−7). Carrying a variant genotype of rs10937823 was associated with decreased overall survival (HR of death = 1.82, 95% CI = 1.42 to 2.33, P = 1.73 × 10−6) in the pooled MD Anderson and Mayo Clinic populations but not in the PLATAX trial patient population (HR of death = 0.96, 95% CI = 0.69 to 1.35).
These results have the potential to contribute to the future development of personalized chemotherapy treatments for individual NSCLC patients.
PMCID: PMC3096796  PMID: 21483023
5.  A genetic variant near the PMAIP1/Noxa gene is associated with increased bleomycin sensitivity 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;20(4):820-826.
Mutagen sensitivity, a measurement of chromatid breaks induced by various mutagens in short-term cultures of peripheral blood lymphocytes, is an established risk factor for a number of cancers and is highly heritable. The purpose of this study is to identify genetic predictors of mutagen sensitivity. Therefore, we conducted a multi-stage genome-wide association study. The primary scan analyzed 539 437 autosomal SNPs in 673 healthy individuals, followed by validations in two independent sets of 575 and 259 healthy individuals, respectively. One SNP, rs8093763, on chromosome 18q21 showed significant association with bleomycin (BLM) sensitivity (combined P = 2.64 × 10−8). We observed significantly lower BLM-induced chromotid breaks for genotypes containing wild-type allele compared with the homozygous variant genotype in the discovery set (0.71 versus 0.90, P= 3.77 × 10−5) and in replication phase 1 (0.61 versus 0.84, P= 7.00 × 10−5). The result of replication phase 2 was not statistically significant (0.65 versus 0.68, P= 0.44). This SNP is approximately 64 kb from PMAIP1/Noxa, which is a radiation-inducible gene and exhibits higher expression in BLM-sensitive lymphoblastoid cell lines than insensitive cell lines upon BLM treatment. In conclusion, we identified a biologically plausible genetic variant on 18q21 near the PMAIP1/Noxa gene that is associated with BLM sensitivity.
PMCID: PMC3024041  PMID: 21106707
6.  PI3K/PTEN/AKT/mTOR Pathway Genetic Variation Predicts Toxicity and Distant Progression in Lung Cancer Patients Receiving Platinum-based Chemotherapy 
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is still the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. The effect of the PI3K/PTEN/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway on cancer treatment, including NSCLC, has been well documented. In this study, we analyzed associations between genetic variations within this pathway and clinical outcomes following platinum-based chemotherapy in 168 patients with stage IIIB (wet) or stage IV NSCLC. Sixteen tagging SNPs in five core genes (PIK3CA, PTEN, AKT1, AKT2, and FRAP1) of this pathway and identified SNPs associated with development of toxicity and disease progression. We observed significantly increased toxicity for patients with PIK3CA:rs2699887 (OR: 3.86, 95% CI: 1.08 – 13.82). In contrast, a SNP in PTEN was associated with significantly reduced risk for chemotherapeutic toxicity (OR: 0.44, 95% CI: 0.20 - 0.95). We identified three SNPs in AKT1 resulting in significantly decreased risks of distant progression in patients carrying at least one variant allele with HRs of 0.66 (95% CI: 0.45 - 0.97), 0.52 (95% CI: 0.35 - 0.77), and 0.62 (95% CI: 0.42 - 0.91) for rs3803304, rs2498804, and rs1130214, respectively. Furthermore, these same variants conferred nearly two-fold increased progression-free survival times. The current study provides evidence that genetic variations within the PI3K/PTEN/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway are associated with variation in clinical outcomes of NSCLC patients. With further validation, our findings may provide additional biomarkers for customized treatment of platinum-based chemotherapy for NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC2952281  PMID: 20447721
lung cancer; chemotherapy; platinum-agents; AKT; clinical outcomes
7.  Genetic variants and risk of lung cancer in never smokers: a genome-wide association study 
The lancet oncology  2010;11(4):321-330.
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.
PMCID: PMC2945218  PMID: 20304703
8.  Germline Genetic variations in drug action pathways predict clinical outcomes in advanced lung cancer treated with platinum-based chemotherapy 
Pharmacogenetics and genomics  2008;18(11):955-965.
Genetic polymorphisms contribute to interindividual variation in drug response. However, a single polymorphism is likely to exhibit a modest effect. Therefore, we applied a pathway-based approach to evaluate the cumulative effect of multiple polymorphisms on clinical outcome of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
We genotyped 25 functional polymorphisms in 16 key genes involved in cisplatin metabolism and action and evaluated their associations with overall survival in 229 NSCLC patients receiving first-line cisplatin-based chemotherapy.
Several biologically plausible main effects were identified in individual analysis. More importantly, when 6 polymorphisms in nucleotide excision repair genes were analyzed jointly, a significant trend of reduced risk of death with decreasing number of putative unfavorable genotypes was observed (P for trend <0.001 and log-rank p<0.001). Survival tree analysis revealed potential higher-order gene-gene interactions and categorized subgroups with dramatically different survival experiences, based on distinct genotype profiles. The median survival time was 78.5 months for terminal node 1 in the low-risk group, 15.1 months for terminal node 10 in the medium-risk group, and 6.7 months for terminal node 9 in the high-risk group (log rank P<0.001). We also constructed a prediction hazard model. The area under the curve (AUC) increased from 0.71 (using clinical variables only) to 0.84 (using clinical, epidemiological, and genetic variations from survival tree analysis).
Our results highlight the clinical potential of taking a pathway-based approach and using survival tree analytic approach to identify subgroups of patients with distinctly differing outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2665725  PMID: 18854777
9.  Mitochondrial DNA Content: Its Genetic Heritability and Association With Renal Cell Carcinoma 
The extent to which mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) content (also termed mtDNA copy number) in normal human cells is influenced by genetic factors has yet to be established. In addition, whether inherited variation of mtDNA content in normal cells contributes to cancer susceptibility remains unclear. Renal cell carcinoma accounts for 85% of all renal cancers. No studies have investigated the association between mtDNA content and the risk of renal cell carcinoma.
We first used a classic twin study design to estimate the genetic contribution to the determination of mtDNA content. mtDNA content was measured by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction in peripheral blood lymphocytes from 250 monozygotic twins, 92 dizygotic twins, and 33 siblings (ie, individual siblings of a pair of twins). We used biometric genetic modeling to estimate heritability of mtDNA content. We then used a case–control study with 260 case patients with renal cell carcinoma and 281 matched control subjects and multivariable logistic regression analysis to examine the association between mtDNA content in peripheral blood lymphocytes and the risk of renal cell carcinoma. All statistical tests were two-sided.
The heritability (ie, proportion of phenotypic variation in a population that is attributable to genetic variation among individuals) of mtDNA content was 65% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 50% to 72%; P < .001). Case patients with renal cell carcinoma had a statistically significantly lower mtDNA content (1.18 copies) than control subjects (1.29 copies) (difference = 0.11, 95% CI = 0.03 to 0.17; P = .006). Low mtDNA content (ie, less than the median in control subjects) was associated with a statistically significantly increased risk of renal cell carcinoma, compared with high content (odds ratio = 1.53, 95% CI = 1.07 to 2.19). In a trend analysis, a statistically significant dose–response relationship was detected between lower mtDNA content and increasing risk of renal cell carcinoma (P for trend <.001).
mtDNA content appears to have high heritability. Low mtDNA content appears to be associated with increased risk of renal cell carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC2720693  PMID: 18664653

Results 1-9 (9)