Influence of glutathione S-transferase polymorphisms on genotoxic effects induced by tobacco smoke

Selena Palma, Tommaso Cornetta, Luca Padua, Renata Cozzi, Massimo Appolloni, Elena Ievoli, Antonella Testa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Genotoxicity of tobacco smoke has long been investigated and tobacco smoke is considered to be one of the principal human carcinogens. Although its role in DNA-damage induction and cancer development has been documented, the mechanisms by which this happens are not well understood. Many chemical constituents of tobacco smoke are enzymatically metabolized by phase-I and phase-II enzymes, but modifications in coding and regulating sequences of these genes could influence their ability to detoxify these compounds. In this work, we studied several enzymes involved in the metabolism of xenobiotics, viz. the glutathione S-transferases (GST) M1, T1, P1 and A1, with respect to their influence on the genotoxic effects induced by cigarette smoking. We assessed the genotoxic effects of tobacco smoke on peripheral blood lymphocytes of 72 healthy caucasians by use of the chromosomal aberration (CA) assay and the micronucleus (MN) test. Genotypes of GST M1, T1, P1 and A1 were determined by means of the polymerase chain reaction and methods based on restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP). We found that smoke and gender are the two variables that most influence the DNA damage. In particular, we observed that female smokers seem to be more sensitive than male smokers, having a significantly higher frequency of CAs. Moreover, a significant increase in frequency of micronuclei in bi-nucleated cells (BNMN) was found in smokers, but not in non-smokers. This increase seems to be influenced not only by age and gender, but also by genetic constitution. Subjects carrying GSTM1-null genotype seemed to have an higher susceptibility to DNA damage induced by tobacco smoke than GSTM1-positive ones. When considering a combination of GST genotypes, we found a lower BNMN frequency in subjects with GSTP1 variant allele plus GSTM1-positive genotypes, while the most damaged cells are found in subjects bearing GSTM1-null plus GSTP1-wild type. Our results suggest that investigation of the association between several gene polymorphisms and important endpoints of DNA damage could contribute to better understanding the role of gene-gene interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalMutation Research - Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2007


  • Chromosome aberrations
  • Comet assay
  • Gene polymorphisms
  • Glutathione S-transferase
  • Micronuclei
  • Tobacco smoke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Genetics


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