Sex differences in risk of lung cancer: Expression of genes in the PAH bioactivation pathway in relation to smoking and bulky DNA adducts

Int J Cancer. 2006 Aug 15;119(4):741-4. doi: 10.1002/ijc.21891.


It is controversial whether women have a higher lung cancer susceptibility compared to men. We previously reported higher levels of smoking-related bulky DNA adducts in female lungs. In a pilot study (27 cases), we also found a higher level of female lung cytochrome P4501A1 (CYP1A1) gene expression. In the present extended study we report on the pulmonary expression of several genes involved in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon bioactivation in relation to sex, smoking and DNA adducts. CYP1A1, CYP1B1, aryl hydrocarbon receptor and microsomal epoxide hydrolase gene expression was measured by quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase-PCR in 121 normal lung tissue samples. The expression of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 was significantly higher among current smokers compared to ex-smokers and never-smokers. Among current smokers, females had a 3.9-fold higher median level of CYP1A1 compared to males (p = 0.011). CYP1B1 expression was not related to sex. Lung DNA adducts (measured by 32P-postlabeling) were highly significantly related to CYP1A1 (p < 0.0001) irrespective of smoking-status. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that CYP1A1 plays a significant role in lung DNA adduct formation and support a higher susceptibility to lung cancer among females.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1 / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1B1
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics
  • DNA Adducts / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / pharmacology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / genetics*


  • DNA Adducts
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases
  • CYP1B1 protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1B1