Identification by microrna analysis of environmental risk factors bearing pathogenic relevance in non-smoker lung cancer

Alberto Izzotti, Gabriela Coronel Vargas, Alessandra Pulliero, Simona Coco, Cristina Colarossi, Giuseppina Blanco, Antonella Agodi, Martina Barchitta, Andrea Maugeri, Gea Oliveri Conti, Margherita Ferrante, Salvatore Sciacca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


MicroRNA and DNA adduct biomarkers may be used to identify the contribution of environmental pollution to some types of cancers. The aim of this study was to use integrated DNA adducts and microRNAs analyses to study retrospectively the contribution of exposures to environmental carcinogens to lung cancer in 64 non-smokers living in Sicily and Catania city near to the Etna volcano. MicroRNAs were extracted from cancer lung biopsies, and from the surround-ing lung normal tissue. The expression of 2549 human microRNAs was analyzed by microarray. Benzo(a)Pyrene-DNA adducts levels were analyzed in the patients’ blood by HPLC−fluorescence detection. Correlations between tetrols and environmental exposures were calculated using Pearson coefficients and regression variable plots. Compared with the healthy tissue, 273 microRNAs were downregulated in lung cancer. Tetrols levels were inversely related both with the distance from Etna and years since smoking cessation, but they were not significantly correlated to environmental exposures. The analysis of the microRNA environmental signatures indicates the contribution of environmental factors to the analyzed lung cancers in the following decreasing rank: (a) car traffic, (b) passive smoke, (c) radon, and (d) volcano ashes. These results provide evidence that microRNA analysis can be used to retrospectively investigate the contribution of environmental factors in human lung cancer occurring in non-smokers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number666
JournalJournal of Personalized Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • DNA adducts
  • Environmental risk factors
  • MicroRNA
  • No-smokers lung cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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