A Molecular Epidemiology Case Control Study on Pleural Malignant Mesothelioma

Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. Vol. 14, 1741-1746, July 2005. [Link]

Claudia Bolognesi1, Fernanda Martini2, Mauro Tognon2, Rosa Filiberti3, Monica Neri3, Emanuela Perrone1, Eleonora Landini1, Paolo A. Canessa4, Gian Paolo Ivaldi5, Pietro Betta6, Luciano Mutti7 and Riccardo Puntoni3

1 Environmental Carcinogenesis Unit, National Cancer Research Institute, Genoa; 2 Department of Morphology and Embryology, School of Medicine, University of Ferrara, Ferrara; 3 Department of Environmental Epidemiology, National Cancer Research Institute, Genoa; 4 Department of Pneumology, Ospedale di Sarzana, La Spezia; 5 Department of Pneumology, Ospedale Villa Scassi, Genoa; 6 Pathology Unit, Department of Oncology, Aziendas Sanitaria Ospedaliera, Alessandria; and 7 Ospedale S. Pietro e Paolo, Borgosesia and S. Maugeri Fundation Institute for Research and Care, Pavia, Italy


Pleural malignant mesothelioma is an uncommon neoplasm usually associated with asbestos exposure. The increasing incidence of malignant mesothelioma cases involving individuals with low levels of asbestos exposure suggests a complex carcinogenetic process with the involvement of other cofactors. Cytogenetic studies revealed the complexity of the genetic changes involved in this neoplasm reflecting the accumulation of genomic damage. One of the most used methodologies for assessing genomic damage is the cytokinesis-blocked micronucleus test applied in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL). This approach allows the detection of chromosomal alterations expressed in binucleated cells after nuclear division in vitro. This marker could provide a tool for assessing genetically determined constitutional differences in chromosomal instability. A biomonitoring study was carried out to evaluate the micronuclei frequency in PBLs of patients with pleural malignant mesothelioma with respect to lung cancer, healthy, and risk controls as a marker of cancer susceptibility in correlation with the presence of SV40. A significant increased micronuclei frequency was observed in patients with malignant mesothelioma in comparison with all the other groups, the mean micronuclei frequency was double in patients with malignant mesothelioma compared with healthy controls, risk controls, and patients with lung adenocarcinoma (median 11.4 binucleated cells with micronuclei/1,000 binucleated cells versus 6.2, 6.1, and 5.1, respectively). Our data indicate that human T lymphocyte samples carry DNA sequences coding for SV40 large T antigen at low prevalence, both in cancer cases and controls. Evidence of cytogenetic damage revealed as micronuclei frequency in mesothelioma cancer patients could be related to exogenous and endogenous cofactors besides asbestos exposure.