ADH1B Arg47His polymorphism is associated with esophageal cancer risk in high-incidence Asian population: evidence from a meta-analysis

PLoS One. 2010 Oct 27;5(10):e13679. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013679.


Background and objectives: Incidence of Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is prevalent in Asian populations, especially in the ones from the "Asian esophageal cancer belt" along the Silk Road and the ones from East Asia (including Japan). Silk Road and Eastern Asia population genetics are relevant to the ancient population migration from central China. The Arg47His (rs1229984) polymorphism of ADH1B is the highest in East Asians, and ancient migrations along the Silk Road were thought to be contributive to a frequent ADH1B*47His allele in Central Asians. This polymorphism was identified as responsible for susceptibility in the first large-scale genome-wide association study of ESCC and that's explained by its modulation of alcohol oxidization capability. To investigate the association of ADH1B Arg47His with ESCC in Asian populations under a common ancestry scenario of the susceptibility loci, we combined all available studies into a meta-analysis.

Methods: A dataset composed of 4,220 cases and 8,946 controls from twelve studies of Asian populations was analyzed for ADH1B Arg47His association with ESCC and its interactions with alcohol drinking and ALDH2 Glu504Lys. Heterogeneity among studies and their publication bias were also tested.

Results: The ADH1B*47Arg allele was found to be associated to increased risk of ESCC, with the odds ratios (OR) being 1.62 (95% CI: 1.49-1.76) and 3.86 (2.96-5.03) for the His/Arg and the Arg/Arg genotypes, respectively. When compared with the His/His genotype of non-drinkers, the Arg/Arg genotype can interact with alcohol drinking and greatly increase the risk of ESCC (OR = 20.69, 95%CI: 5.09-84.13). Statistical tests also showed gene-gene interaction of ADH1B Arg+ with ALDH2 Lys+ can bring more risk to ESCC (OR = 13.46, 95% CI: 2.32-78.07).

Conclusion: Revealed by this meta-analysis, ADH1B*47Arg as a common ancestral allele can significantly increase the risk of ESCC in Asians, especially when coupled with alcohol drinking or the ALDH2*504Lys allele.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / chemistry
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Arginine / genetics*
  • Asia
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Epistasis, Genetic
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Histidine / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*


  • Histidine
  • Arginine
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase