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Modulation of proliferating cell nuclear antigen in the bronchial epithelium of smokers.

Author(s): Khuri FR, Lee JS, Lippman SM, Lee JJ, Kalapurakal S, Yu R, Ro JY, Morice RC, Hong WK, Hittelman WN

Affiliation(s): The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.

Publication date & source: 2001-04, Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev., 10(4):311-8.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

Clinical chemoprevention trials seek to intervene in the carcinogenic process to suppress, reverse, or delay the development of invasive cancer. Dysregulated cell growth is a hallmark of epithelial carcinogenesis, and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) is a marker of dysregulated proliferation that is highly expressed in non-small cell lung cancers. Squamous metaplasia of the bronchial epithelium is found in chronic smokers and has been considered an early premalignant change. To evaluate the effect of 13-cis-retinoic acid (13-cRA) on PCNA modulation, we evaluated PCNA expression in a total of 706 bronchial biopsy specimens from histologically normal, hyperplastic, metaplastic, and dysplastic bronchial tissues obtained from 86 healthy smokers at baseline, of whom 69 subjects had completed 6 months of treatment on a randomized placebo-controlled chemoprevention trial of 13-cRA and had repeat bronchoscopic biopsies. PCNA expression was evaluated with respect to bronchial metaplasia and as an intermediate end point for response in the trial. In the bronchial biopsies obtained from six standardized pretreatment and posttreatment sites, high PCNA expression correlated significantly with more advanced histological grade (P < 0.001). Furthermore, smoking cessation during therapy correlated well with reduced PCNA expression (P = 0.006), although multivariate analysis indicated that this reduction in PCNA expression was associated with the reversal of squamous metaplasia. The level of PCNA expression appeared to correlate with the level of epidermal growth factor receptor expression both at baseline and at 6 months. In those patients who ceased smoking during the intervention, the 13-cRA also appeared to be more effective than placebo in reducing PCNA expression (P = 0.034 in all of the layers; P = 0.026 in basal layers). The efficacy of 13-cRA in the down-regulation of PCNA in quitters was independent of baseline PCNA expression levels. Our study demonstrated that increased PCNA expression was associated with histological progression from normal bronchial epithelium to squamous metaplasia and dysplasia. The modulation of PCNA by 13-cRA in patients who quit smoking suggests a potentially important role for regulating this proliferation marker in retinoid chemoprevention studies of former smokers.

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