Functional significance has been demonstrated in vitro for the exon 3 T-->C Tyr113His amino acid substitution polymorphism of the microsomal epoxide hydrolase (EPHX) gene. The higher activity or fast TT genotype was previously reported to be associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer, and this association may reflect enhanced activation of endogenous or exogenous substrates to more reactive and mutagenic derivatives. Components of cigarette smoke are examples of exogenous substrates subject to such bioactivation, and smoking exposure may thus modify the risk associated with the EPHX polymorphism. We examined 545 cases of epithelial ovarian cancer and 287 unaffected controls for this EPHX T-C genetic variant to investigate whether, in the Australian population, the TT genotype was associated with (i) specific ovarian tumor characteristics; (ii) risk of ovarian cancer, overall or for specific subgroups; and (iii) risk of ovarian cancer in smokers specifically. Genotyping was carried out using the Perkin-Elmer ABI Prism 7700 Sequence Detection System for fluorogenic polymerase chain reaction allelic discrimination. Stratification of the ovarian cancer cases according to tumor behavior (low malignant potential or invasive), grade, stage, and p53 immunohistochemical status failed to show any heterogeneity with respect to the genotype defined by the EPHX polymorphism. There was a suggestion of heterogeneity with respect to histologic subtype (P=0.03), largely due to a decreased frequency of the TT genotype in endometrioid tumors. EPHX genotype distribution did not differ significantly between unaffected controls and ovarian cancer cases (overall, low malignant potential, or invasive) either overall or after stratification by smoking status. However, the TT genotype was associated with a decreased risk of invasive ovarian cancer of the endometrioid subtype specifically (age-adjusted odds ratio=0.38, 95% confidence interval=0.17-0.87). The results suggest that the proposed EPHX-mediated bioactivation of components of cigarette smoke to mutagenic forms is unlikely to be involved in the etiology of ovarian cancer in general but that a greater rate of EPHX-mediated detoxification may decrease the risk of endometrioid ovarian cancer. Mol. Carcinog. 30:71-78, 2001.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.