Background: Telomerase activation plays a critical role in tumorigenesis. To determine the role of telomerase in early lung carcinogenesis and as a potential biomarker in chemoprevention trials, we analyzed the expression of the human telomerase reverse transcriptase catalytic subunit (hTERT) in bronchial biopsy specimens from cigarette smokers who were enrolled in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled chemoprevention trial of N-(4-hydroxyphenyl)retinamide (4-HPR). Methods: We obtained biopsy specimens from six predetermined sites in the bronchial tree from the 57 participants, before treatment and 6 months after treatment with 4-HPR or placebo. We used in situ hybridization to examine hTERT messenger RNA (mRNA) expression in 266 pretreatment (baseline) and post-treatment site-paired biopsy specimens from 27 patients in the 4-HPR-treated group and from 30 patients in the placebo-treated group. All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: At baseline, 62.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 53.9% to 71%) of the biopsy specimens obtained from the group treated with 4-HPR and 65.2% (95% CI = 57.4% to 73.1%) of the biopsy specimens obtained from the placebo-treated group expressed hTERT mRNA. After 6 months, 45.6% (95% CI = 36.9% to 54.3%) of the biopsy specimens obtained from the 4-HPR-treated group and 68.1% (95% CI = 60.4% to 75.8%) of the biopsy specimens obtained from the placebo-treated group expressed hTERT mRNA. The reduction in hTERT expression observed between the two treatment groups over time was statistically significant (P = .01) when we used the biopsy site as the unit of analysis, but not when we used the individual as the unit of analysis (P = .37). Conclusions: Telomerase is frequently reactivated in the lungs of cigarette smokers. The modulation of hTERT expression in 4-HPR-treated smokers suggests that a novel molecular mechanism underlies the potential chemopreventive properties of 4-HPR. hTERT expression is a promising potential biomarker for risk assessment and for the evaluation of the efficacy of chemopreventive agents in lung carcinogenesis.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Journal of the National Cancer Institute|
|State||Published - Aug 15 2001|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research