Susceptibility to aflatoxin B1-related primary hepatocellular carcinoma in mice and humans

Katherine A. McGlynn, Kent Hunter, Thomas LeVoyer, Jessica Roush, Philip Wise, Rita A. Michielli, Fu Min Shen, Alison A. Evans, W. Thomas London, Kenneth H. Buetow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


The genetic basis of disease susceptibility can be studied by several means, including research on animal models and epidemiological investigations in humans. The two methods are infrequently used simultaneously, but their joint use may overcome the disadvantages of either method alone. We used both approaches in an attempt to understand the genetic basis of aflatoxin B1 (AFB1)-related susceptibility to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Ingestion of AFB1 is a major risk factor for HCC in many areas of the world where HCC is common. Whether humans vary in their ability to detoxify the active intermediate metabolite of AFB1, AFB1-exo-8,9-epoxide, is not certain but may explain why all exposed individuals do not develop HCC. To determine whether human variability in detoxification may exist, in a study of 231 HCC cases and 256 controls, we genotyped eleven loci in two families of AFB1 detoxification genes; the glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) and the epoxide hydrolases (EPHX). After adjustment for multiple comparisons, only one polymorphism in the epoxide hydrolase family 2 locus remained significantly associated with HCC (odds ratio = 2.06, 95% confidence interval = 1.13-3.12). To determine whether additional susceptibility loci exist, we developed a mouse model system to examine AFB1-induced HCC. Susceptibility of 7-day-old mice from two common inbred strains (C57BL/6J, DBA/2J) was assessed. DBA/2J animals were 3-fold more sensitive to AFB1-induced HCC and significantly more sensitive to AFB1 acute toxicity than were C57BL/6J animals. Analysis of the xenobiotic metabolizing genes in the two strains revealed single nucleotide polymorphisms in three genes, Gsta4, Gstt1, and Ephx1. Although the GSTT1 and EPHX1 loci did not appear to be related to HCC in the total population of the human study, a polymorphism in GSTA4 was significantly related to risk in the male subset. The mouse model also demonstrated that absent or compromised p53 was not necessary for the development of carcinogenesis. These results indicate that the comparison of results from human studies and the AFB1-susceptible mouse model may provide new insights into hepatocarcinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4594-4601
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Research
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Susceptibility to aflatoxin B1-related primary hepatocellular carcinoma in mice and humans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this