Medline: 9196251

The fulltext Journal of the National Cancer Institute 89(12): 857-862, 1997. is available online for subscribers.

Clonal genetic alterations in the lungs of current and former smokers.

Mao L, Lee JS, Kurie JM, et al.



Genetic damage has been identified at multiple chromosomal sites (i.e., loci) in lung cancer cells. We questioned whether similar damage could be detected in the bronchial epithelial cells of chronic smokers who do not have this disease.

Biopsy specimens from six different bronchial regions were obtained from 54 chronic smokers (40 current smokers and 14 former smokers). The presence of squamous metaplasia and dysplasia (abnormal histologic changes) in the specimens was documented by examination of hematoxylin-eosin-stained sections, and a metaplasia index ([number of biopsy specimens with metaplasia/total number of biopsy specimens] x 100%) was calculated for each subject. Loss of heterozygosity (i.e., loss of DNA sequences from one member of a chromosome pair) involving microsatellite DNA at three specific loci-chromosome 3p14, chromosome 9p21, and chromosome 17p13-was evaluated by means of the polymerase chain reaction. Fisher's exact test and logistic regression analysis were used to assess the data. Reported P values are two-sided.

Data on microsatellite DNA status at chromosomes 3p14, 9p21, and 17p13 were available for 54, 50, and 44 subjects, respectively. The numbers of individuals who were actually informative (i.e., able to be evaluated for a loss of heterozygosity) at the three loci were 36 (67%), 37 (74%), and 34 (77%), respectively. DNA losses were detected in 27 (75%), 21 (57%), and six (18%) of the informative subjects at chromosomes 3p14, 9p21, and 17p13, respectively. Fifty-one subjects were informative for at least one of the three loci, and 39 (76%) exhibited a loss of heterozygosity. Forty-two subjects were informative for at least two of the loci, and 13 (31%) exhibited losses at a minimum of two loci. Loss of heterozygosity at chromosome 3p14 was more frequent in current smokers (22 [88%] of 25 informative) than in former smokers (five [45%] of 11 informative) (P = .01) and in subjects with a metaplasia index greater than or equal to 15% (21 [91%] of 23 informative) than in subjects with a metaplasia index of less than 15% (six [46%] of 13 informative) (P = .003). In five informative individuals among nine tested nonsmokers, a loss of heterozygosity was detected in only one subject at chromosome 3p14 (P = .03), and no losses were detected at chromosome 9p21 (P = .05).

Genetic alterations at chromosomal sites containing putative tumor-suppressor genes (i.e., 3p14 and the FHIT gene, 9p21 and the p16 gene [also known as CDKN2], and 17p13 and the p53 gene [also known as TP53]) occur frequently in the histologically normal or minimally altered bronchial epithelium of chronic smokers.

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