DNA repair capacity is an important determinant of susceptibility to cancer. The hOGG1 enzyme is crucial for repairing the 8-oxoguanine lesion that occurs either as a byproduct of oxidative metabolism or as a result of exogenous sources such as exposure to cigarette smoke. It has been previously reported that smokers with low hOGG1 activity had significantly higher risk of developing lung cancer as compared to smokers with high hOGG1 activity.
In the current study we elucidate the association between plasma levels of 8-OHdG and the OGG1 repair capacity. We used the commercially available 8-OHdG ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), the Comet assay/FLARE hOGG1 (Fragment Length Analysis by Repair Enzymes) assay for quantification of the levels of 8-OHdG and measured the constitutive, induced and unrepaired residual damage, respectively. We compared the DNA repair capacity in peripheral blood lymphocytes following H2O2 exposure in 30 lung cancer patients, 30 non-, 30 former and 30 current smoker controls matched by age and gender.
Our results show that lung cancer cases and current smoker controls have similar levels of 8-OHdG lesions that are significantly higher compared to the non-smokers controls. However, lung cancer cases showed significantly poorer repair capacity compared to all controls tested, including the current smokers controls. After adjustment for age, gender and family history of smoking-related cancer using linear regression, we observed a 5-fold increase in risk of lung cancer associated with high levels of residual damage/reduced repair capacity. Reduced OGG1 activity could be expected to be a risk factor in other smoking-related cancers.
Our study shows that the Comet/FLARE assay is a relatively rapid and useful method for determination of DNA repair capacity. Using this assay we could identify individuals with high levels of residual damage and hence poor repair capacity who would be good candidates for intensive follow-up and screening.