Current smoking-specific gene expression signature in normal bronchial epithelium is enhanced in squamous cell lung cancer.

Department of Pathology, University Medical Centre Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.
The Journal of Pathology (Impact Factor: 7.33). 02/2009; 218(2):182-91. DOI: 10.1002/path.2520
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Cigarette smoking is the main risk factor for the development of squamous cell lung carcinoma (SCC). However, the smoking-related molecular changes in SCC have not been studied. Gene expression studies in both histologically normal bronchial epithelium and SCC epithelial samples identified genes differentially expressed between current and ex-smokers. Subsequently, expression levels of the smoking-related genes in normal bronchial epithelium were compared with those in SCC cells, since we hypothesized that the smoking-induced changes would be also deregulated in SCC. Gene expression profiles were generated using Agilent whole human genome microarrays on laser-microdissected normal bronchial epithelium and SCC samples. Expression levels of 246 genes, mainly related to oxidative stress response, were significantly different between normal bronchial epithelium of current and ex-smokers. Such a differential gene expression profile did not exist in SCC cells of smokers and ex-smokers. Interestingly, when comparing SCC and normal bronchial epithelium from ex-smokers, the vast majority of these 246 genes were also deregulated in SCC. When comparing SCC with normal epithelium from smokers, 22% of the up-regulated genes showed a similar high expression in SCC whereas 79% of the down-regulated genes were even further reduced in SCC as compared to current smokers. The down-regulated genes included several tumour suppressor genes, such as C9orf9, INHBB, LRIG1, SCGB3A1, SERPINI2, STEAP3 and ZMYND10. Thus, our study shows that the majority of genes up-regulated in normal bronchial epithelium of current smokers show similar high expression levels in SCC, while down-regulated genes are even further repressed in SCC. Our data indicate that smoking-related changes in normal bronchial epithelial cells persist in malignant transformed squamous cells.

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