Journal Article

Mutagen sensitivity and environmental exposures as contributing causes of chromosome 3p losses in head and neck cancers

Stimson P. Schantz, Qiang Huang, Kinner Shah, V.V.V.S. Murty, T.C. Hsu, Guopei Yu, Peter E. Andersen, Andrew G. Huvos and Raju S.K. Chaganti

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 21, issue 6, pages 1239-1246
Published in print June 2000 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online June 2000 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
Mutagen sensitivity and environmental exposures as contributing causes of chromosome 3p losses in head and neck cancers

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  • Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics


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The interaction between environmental exposures and host susceptibility may lead to specific mutational events within head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Furthermore, this interplay may determine not only the probability of cancer development but also the biologic characteristics of the tumor once it occurs. To better understand the relationship of mutagen sensitivity and tobacco and/or alcohol consumption on HNSCC carcinogenesis, we examined loss of heterozygosity on chromosome 3p in 58 HNSCCs using 10 microsatellite markers. Mutagen sensitivity was determined in vitro by quantitating bleomycin-induced chromatid breaks utilizing peripheral blood lympocytes from respective patients. Forty-six of the 58 invasive cancers showed allelic loss at one or more loci. Consistent with previous investigations, three discrete regions of deletions were identified: 3p13–14.2, 3p21.1–21.2, and 3p25.1–26.1. The frequency and types of deletions were dependent upon tobacco and alcohol exposures. The distal region of 3p but not the remaining two regions was most frequently influenced by tobacco exposure. In contrast, heavy alcohol use when combined with tobacco use was associated with whole-arm loss of 3p rather than identifiable site-specific damage. Furthermore, this combined influence of alcohol and tobacco exposures on whole-arm loss was most apparent in those patients who expressed mutagen-sensitivity; the odds ratio of whole-arm loss increasing from 2.67 (95% CI 0.21–33.49) in those individuals who were mutagen resistant to 13.5 (95% CI 1.3–136.0; P = 0.02 by Fisher's exact test) in those who were mutagen sensitive. An assessment of clinical parameters in this population demonstrated that patients with whole-arm loss were more likely to present with cervical lymph node metastases and advanced stage disease than patients with partial losses. Results indicate that various environmental exposures as well as the expression of mutagen sensitivity will influence the types of chromosome 3p allelic losses in head and neck cancers as well as the behavior of disease once it develops.

Keywords: HNSCC, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma; LOH, loss of heterozygosity.

Journal Article.  7033 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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