Acrolein (Acr) is a ubiquitous environmental contaminant; it also can be generated endogenously by lipid peroxidation. Acr contains a carbonyl group and an olefinic double bond; it can react with many cellular molecules including amino acids, proteins and nucleic acids. In this review article we focus on updating information regarding: (i) Acr-induced DNA damage and methods of detection, (ii) repair of Acr-DNA damage, (iii) mutagenicity of Acr-DNA adducts, (iv) sequence specificity and methylation effect on Acr-DNA adduct formation and (v) the role of Acr in human cancer. We have found that Acr can inhibit DNA repair and induces mutagenic Acr-dG adducts and that the binding spectrum of Acr in the p53 gene in normal human bronchial epithelial cells is similar to the p53 mutational spectrum in lung cancer. Since Acr-DNA adduct has been identified in human lung tissue and Acr causes bladder cancer in human and rat models, we conclude that Acr is a major lung and bladder carcinogen, and its carcinogenicity arises via induction of DNA damage and inhibition of DNA repair.
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