HuGeF Foundation

Sant'Ambrogio di Torino, Italy

HuGeF Foundation

Sant'Ambrogio di Torino, Italy
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Munafo M.R.,University of Bristol | Timofeeva M.N.,International Agency for Research on Cancer | Morris R.W.,University College London | Prieto-Merino D.,London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine | And 24 more authors.
Journal of the National Cancer Institute | Year: 2012

Background Two single-nucleotide polymorphisms, rs1051730 and rs16969968, located within the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor gene cluster on chromosome 15q25 locus, are associated with heaviness of smoking, risk for lung cancer, and other smoking-related health outcomes. Previous studies have typically relied on self-reported smoking behavior, which may not fully capture interindividual variation in tobacco exposure. Methods We investigated the association of rs1051730 and rs16969968 genotype (referred to as rs1051730-rs16969968, because these are in perfect linkage disequilibrium and interchangeable) with both self-reported daily cigarette consumption and biochemically measured plasma or serum cotinine levels among cigarette smokers. Summary estimates and descriptive statistical data for 12364 subjects were obtained from six independent studies, and 2932 smokers were included in the analyses. Linear regression was used to calculate the per-allele association of rs1051730-rs16969968 genotype with cigarette consumption and cotinine levels in current smokers for each study. Meta-analysis of per-allele associations was conducted using a random effects method. The likely resulting association between genotype and lung cancer risk was assessed using published data on the association between cotinine levels and lung cancer risk. All statistical tests were two-sided. Results Pooled per-allele associations showed that current smokers with one or two copies of the rs1051730-rs16969968 risk allele had increased self-reported cigarette consumption (mean increase in unadjusted number of cigarettes per day per allele = 1.0 cigarette, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.57 to 1.43 cigarettes, P = 5.22 × 10 -6) and cotinine levels (mean increase in unadjusted cotinine levels per allele = 138.72 nmol/L, 95% CI = 97.91 to 179.53 nmol/L, P = 2.71 × 10 -11). The increase in cotinine levels indicated an increased risk of lung cancer with each additional copy of the rs1051730-rs16969968 risk allele (per-allele odds ratio = 1.31, 95% CI = 1.21 to 1.42). Conclusions Our data show a stronger association of rs1051730-rs16969968 genotype with objective measures of tobacco exposure compared with self-reported cigarette consumption. The association of these variants with lung cancer risk is likely to be mediated largely, if not wholly, via tobacco exposure. © The Author(s) 2012.


Brennan K.,Imperial College London | Garcia-Closas M.,Institute for Cancer Research | Garcia-Closas M.,Institute of Cancer Research | Orr N.,Institute for Cancer Research | And 19 more authors.
Cancer Research | Year: 2012

Few studies have evaluated the association between DNA methylation in white blood cells (WBC) and the risk of breast cancer. The evaluation of WBC DNA methylation as a biomarker of cancer risk is of particular importance as peripheral blood is often available in prospective cohorts and easier to obtain than tumor or normal tissues. Here, we used prediagnostic blood samples from three studies to analyze WBC DNA methylation of two ATM intragenic loci (ATMmvp2a and ATMmvp2b) and genome-wide DNA methylation in long interspersed nuclear element-1 (LINE1) repetitive elements. Samples were from a case-control study derived from a cohort of high-risk breast cancer families (KConFab) and nested case-control studies in two prospective cohorts: Breakthrough Generations Study (BGS) and European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Bisulfite pyrosequencing was used to quantify methylation from 640 incident cases of invasive breast cancer and 741 controls. Quintile analyses for ATMmvp2a showed an increased risk of breast cancer limited to women in the highest quintile [OR, 1.89; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.36-2.64; P = 1.64 × 10 -4]. We found no significant differences in estimates across studies or in analyses stratified by family history or menopausal status. However, a more consistent association was observed in younger than in older women and individually significant in KConFab and BGS, but not EPIC. We observed no differences in LINE1 or ATMmvp2b methylation between cases and controls. Together, our findings indicate thatWBC DNA methylation levels at ATM could be a marker of breast cancer risk and further support the pursuit of epigenome-wide association studies of peripheral blood DNA methylation. ©2012 AACR.


Boffetta P.,Mount Sinai School of Medicine | Boffetta P.,International Prevention Research Institute | Winn D.M.,U.S. National Institutes of Health | Ioannidis J.P.,Stanford University | And 11 more authors.
International Journal of Epidemiology | Year: 2012

We propose guidelines to evaluate the cumulative evidence of gene-environment (G × E) interactions in the causation of human cancer. Our approach has its roots in the HuGENet and IARC Monographs evaluation processes for genetic and environmental risk factors, respectively, and can be applied to common chronic diseases other than cancer. We first review issues of definitions of G × E interactions, discovery and modelling methods for G × E interactions, and issues in systematic reviews of evidence for G × E interactions, since these form the foundation for appraising the credibility of evidence in this contentious field. We then propose guidelines that include four steps: (i) score the strength of the evidence for main effects of the (a) environmental exposure and (b) genetic variant; (ii) establish a prior score category and decide on the pattern of interaction to be expected; (iii) score the strength of the evidence for interaction between the environmental exposure and the genetic variant; and (iv) examine the overall plausibility of interaction by combining the prior score and the strength of the evidence and interpret results. We finally apply the scheme to the interaction between NAT2 polymorphism and tobacco smoking in determining bladder cancer risk. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association © The Author 2012.


Cegolon L.,University of Padua | Cegolon L.,Imperial College London | Salata C.,University of Padua | Weiderpass E.,University of Tromsø | And 5 more authors.
BMC Cancer | Year: 2013

Background: Cancer is a significant and growing problem worldwide. While this increase may, in part, be attributed to increasing longevity, improved case notifications and risk-enhancing lifestyle (such as smoking, diet and obesity), hygiene-related factors resulting in immuno-regulatory failure may also play a major role and call for a revision of vaccination strategies to protect against a range of cancers in addition to infections.Discussion: Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are a significant component of a wider family of retroelements that constitutes part of the human genome. They were originated by the integration of exogenous retroviruses into the human genome millions of years ago. HERVs are estimated to comprise about 8% of human DNA and are ubiquitous in somatic and germinal tissues.Physiologic and pathologic processes are influenced by some biologically active HERV families. HERV antigens are only expressed at low levels by the host, but in circumstances of inappropriate control their genes may initiate or maintain pathological processes. Although the precise mechanism leading to abnormal HERVs gene expression has yet to be clearly elucidated, environmental factors seem to be involved by influencing the human immune system.HERV-K expression has been detected in different types of tumors.Among the various human endogenous retroviral families, the K series was the latest acquired by the human species. Probably because of its relatively recent origin, the HERV-K is the most complete and biologically active family.The abnormal expression of HERV-K seemingly triggers pathological processes leading to melanoma onset, but also contributes to the morphological and functional cellular modifications implicated in melanoma maintenance and progression.The HERV-K-MEL antigen is encoded by a pseudo-gene incorporated in the HERV-K env-gene. HERV-K-MEL is significantly expressed in the majority of dysplastic and normal naevi, as well as other tumors like sarcoma, lymphoma, bladder and breast cancer. An amino acid sequence similar to HERV-K-MEL, recognized to cause a significant protective effect against melanoma, is shared by the antigenic determinants expressed by some vaccines such as BCG, vaccinia virus and the yellow fever virus.HERV-K are also reactivated in the majority of human breast cancers. Monoclonal and single-chain antibodies against the HERV-K Env protein recently proved capable of blocking the proliferation of human breast cancer cells in vitro, inhibiting tumor growth in mice bearing xenograft tumors.Summary: A recent epidemiological study provided provisional evidence of how melanoma risk could possibly be reduced if the yellow fever virus vaccine (YFV) were received at least 10 years before, possibly preventing tumor initiation rather than culling melanoma cells already compromised. Further research is recommended to confirm the temporal pattern of this protection and eliminate/attenuate the potential role of relevant confounders as socio-economic status and other vaccinations.It appears also appropriate to examine the potential protective effect of YFV against other malignancies expressing high levels of HERV-K antigens, namely breast cancer, sarcoma, lymphoma and bladder cancer.Tumor immune-therapy, as described for the monoclonal antibodies against breast cancer, is indeed considered more complex and less advantageous than immune-prevention. Cellular immunity possibly triggered by vaccines as for YFV might also be involved in anti-cancer response, in addition to humoral immunity. © 2013 Cegolon et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Vineis P.,Imperial College London | Vineis P.,HuGeF Foundation | Chuang S.-C.,Imperial College London | Vaissiere T.,International Agency for Research on Cancer IARC | And 6 more authors.
Epigenetics | Year: 2011

Aberrant DNA methylation is a major epigenetic mechanism of gene silencing in a wide range of human cancers. Previous studies on DNA methylation typically used paired tumor and normal-appearing surrounding tissues from cancer-bearing individuals. However, genomic DNA isolated from surrogate tissues such as blood cells represents an attractive material that can be exploited in the discovery of biomarkers of exposure and tumorigenesis. Here we examined the association between lung cancer and DNA methylation patterns in a panel of candidate genes. We also investigated whether blood levels of vitamin metabolites modify DNA methylation levels in blood cells. To this end, we quantitatively determined DNA methylation levels in blood cells of nested cases and controls from a prospective study with well defined dietary habits and lifestyles. Multiple CpG sites in five genes (CDKN2A/p16, RASSF1A, GSTP1, MTHFR and MGMT) that are frequent targets of hypermethylation in a variety of human malignancies were included in the analysis. While no clear association between DNA methylation patterns and the case/control status was found, with the exception of RASSF1A hypermethylation, methylation level changed according to serum levels of 1-carbon metabolites and vitamins B. Overall, folate was associated with increased methylation levels of RASSF1A and MTHFR and methionine was associated with decreased methylation levels of RASSF1A. The associations with folate were more pronounced among never smokers while the associations with methionine were more evident among ever-smokers. These results are consistent with the notion that blood levels of 1-carbon metabolism markers and dietary/lifestyle factors may modify DNA methylation levels in blood cells and that blood cells can be exploited for the discovery of epigenetic biomarkers of exposures, providing proof-of-principle on the use of blood samples in the context of prospective studies. © 2011 Landes Bioscience.


Shenker N.S.,Imperial College London | Ueland P.M.,University of Bergen | Polidoro S.,HuGeF Foundation | Van Veldhoven K.,Imperial College London | And 5 more authors.
Epidemiology | Year: 2013

BACKGROUND: Most biomarkers of exposure tend to have short half-lives. This includes cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine widely used to assess smoke exposure. Cotinine is thus unsuitable as a determinant of past exposure to cigarette smoke. METHODS: We used bisulphite pyrosequencing of a set of four genomic loci (AHRR, 6p21, and two at 2q37) that had differential DNA methylation levels in peripheral blood DNA dependent on tobacco exposure to create a predictive model of smoking status. RESULTS: Combining four gene loci into a single methylation index provided high positive predictive and sensitivity values for predicting former smoking status in both test (n = 81) and validation (n = 180) sample sets. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides a direct molecular measure of prior exposure to tobacco that can be performed using the quantitative approach of bisulphite pyrosequencing. Epigenetic changes that are detectable in blood may more generally act as molecular biomarkers for other exposures that are also difficult to quantify in epidemiological studies. Copyright © 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


Vineis P.,Imperial College London | Vineis P.,HuGeF Foundation | Wild C.P.,International Agency for Research on Cancer
The Lancet | Year: 2014

Cancer is a global and growing, but not uniform, problem. An increasing proportion of the burden is falling on low-income and middle-income countries because of not only demographic change but also a transition in risk factors, whereby the consequences of the globalisation of economies and behaviours are adding to an existing burden of cancers of infectious origin. We argue that primary prevention is a particularly effective way to fight cancer, with between a third and a half of cancers being preventable on the basis of present knowledge of risk factors. Primary prevention has several advantages: the effectiveness could have benefits for people other than those directly targeted, avoidance of exposure to carcinogenic agents is likely to prevent other non-communicable diseases, and the cause could be removed or reduced in the long term-eg, through regulatory measures against occupational or environmental exposures (ie, the preventive effort does not need to be renewed with every generation, which is especially important when resources are in short supply). Primary prevention must therefore be prioritised as an integral part of global cancer control.


Shenker N.S.,Imperial College London | Polidoro S.,HuGeF Foundation | van Veldhoven K.,HuGeF Foundation | van Veldhoven K.,Imperial College London | And 8 more authors.
Human Molecular Genetics | Year: 2013

A single cytosine-guanine dinucleotide (CpG) site within coagulation factor II (thrombin) receptor-like 3 (F2RL3) was recently found to be hypomethylated in peripheral blood genomic DNA from smokers compared with former and non-smokers. We performed two epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS) nested in a prospective healthy cohort using the Illumina 450K Methylation Beadchip. The two populations consisted of matched pairs of healthy individuals (n = 374), of which half went on to develop breast or colon cancer. The association was analysed between methylation and smoking status, as well as cancer risk. In addition to the same locus in F2RL3, we report several loci that are hypomethylated in smokers compared with former and non-smokers, including an intragenic region of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor repressor gene (AHRR; cg05575921, P = 2.31 × 10-15; effect size = 14-17%), an intergenic CpG island on 2q37.1 (cg21566642, P = 3.73 × 10-13; effect size = 12%) and a further intergenic region at 6p21.33 (cg06126421, P = 4.96 × 10-11, effect size = 7-8%). Bisulphite pyrosequencing validated six loci in a further independent population of healthy individuals (n = 180). Methylation levels in AHRR were also significantly decreased (P < 0.001) and expression increased (P = 0.0047) in the lung tissue of current smokers compared with non-smokers. This was further validated in a mouse model of smoke exposure. We observed an association with breast cancer risk for the 2q37.1 locus (P = 0.003, adjusted for the smoking status), but not for the other loci associated with smoking. These data show that smoking has a direct effect on the epigenome in lung tissue, which is also detectable in peripheral blood DNA and may contribute to cancer risk. © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


Kelly R.S.,Harvard University | Kelly R.S.,Imperial College London | Vineis P.,Imperial College London | Vineis P.,HuGef Foundation
British Medical Bulletin | Year: 2014

Background: Genetic susceptibly to suspected chemical and environmental carcinogens may modify the response to exposure. The aim of this review was to explore the issues involved in the study of gene-environment interactions, and to consider the use of susceptibility biomarkers in cancer epidemiology, using non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) as an example.Sources of data: PubMed, EMBASE and Web of Science were searched for peer-reviewed articles considering biomarkers of susceptibility to chemical, agricultural and industrial carcinogens in the aetiology of NHL.Areas of agreement: The results suggest a modifying role for genetic susceptibility to a number of occupational and environmental exposures including organochlorines, chlorinated solvents, chlordanes and benzene in the aetiology of NHL. The potential importance of these gene-environment interactions in NHL may help to explain the lack of definitive carcinogens identified to date for this malignancy.Areas of controversy: Although a large number of genetic variants and gene-environment interactions have been explored for NHL, to date replication is lacking and therefore the findings remain to be validated.Growing points and areas timely for developing research: These findings highlight the need for novel standardized methodologies in the study of genetic susceptibility to chemical carcinogens. © The Author 2014.


Vineis P.,Imperial College London | Vineis P.,HuGeF Foundation | Chadeau-Hyam M.,Imperial College London
Current Opinion in Oncology | Year: 2011

Purpose of review: Biomarkers play a central role in chronic disease epidemiology, providing insights into pathways related to the relationship between environmental exposures and disease risk. Recent developments in both data acquisition techniques and laboratory approaches advocate for a more extensive and refined use of biomarkers. Recent findings: We review some issues related to biomarker identification and validation techniques as well as the main methodologies to measure biomarkers in existing biobank data. Finally, we describe analytical strategies recently proposed to include the time component into biomarker research. Summary: This review suggests that some of the technical issues to identify, validate, and analyze biomarkers have been partly addressed in epidemiological studies. The inclusion of biomarker analyses into longitudinal frameworks provides a promising potential to analyze the role of different types of biomarkers and to refine the 'causal' models linking exposure to disease risk. These kinds of approaches can be implemented based on existing cohort data, at the cost of some approximation, but their generalization would ideally require advancements in study design, such as routinely allowing for the collection of several biological samples at different time points. © 2010 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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