Genotoxic effects of systemic chemotherapy in cancer patients, with special focus on the relation between MSI, LOH and development of secondary cancers.

By: Nasir Kamat
Opponent:
Host: Ulf Rannug


Systemic chemotherapy results in both phenotypic and genotypic side effects. Genotoxicity posed by chemotherapy is a major concern since it induces DNA damage and instability in the patients’ genome. Chemotherapy-related genetic instability is thought to be the cause of some secondary tumors especially the acute myeloid leukemia and/or myelodysplasia, which affect 2-15% of patients receiving chemotherapy. Microsatellites are polymorphic repetitive DNA sequences that undergo changes in their length due to instability. Microsatellite instability (MSI) and loss of heterozygosity (LOH) are the main features of chemotherapy-related genotoxicity.

Using a panel of five and ten microsatellite markers, MSI and LOH were evident in blood specimens collected from patients with breast cancer or other solid tumors, respectively. In addition, the expression of mismatch repair (MMR) proteins was analyzed in tumor tissues using immunohistochemistry. The results showed a decreased expression of the following proteins, human mutL homolog 1 (hMLH1), human mutS homolog 2 (hMSH2), human mutS homolog 6 (hMSH6), human post-meiotic segregation increased 2 (hPMS2), and p53 tumor suppressor protein (p53) after completion of chemotherapy. The clinical complications; resistance to chemotherapy, recurrence of primary tumor, and development of secondary tumors were also studied. Incidence of MSI and LOH detected in Tp53-Alu, the marker related to the TP53 tumor suppressor gene, was noticeable compared to the other studied microsatellites. Statistical analysis showed a significant correlation between alterations in microsatellites in blood specimens (MSI and LOH) and MMR expression in tumor tissues. Another strong correlation observed was between MSI, LOH and MMR and the recurrence of primary tumor and/or development of secondary cancers.

The findings support the hypothesis that MSI and LOH play an important role in tumorigenesis of primary and secondary tumors, and that MSI and LOH may be used as screening tools for early prediction of chemotherapy-related side effects, especially resistance to treatment, recurrence of primary cancer and generation of secondary tumors.