Association of a deletion of GSTT2B with an altered risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma in a South African population: a case-control study

PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e29366. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029366. Epub 2011 Dec 27.


Background: Polymorphisms in the Glutathione S-transferase genes are associated with altered risks in many cancers, but their role in oesophageal cancer is unclear. Recently a 37-kb deletion polymorphism of GSTT2B that reduces expression of GSTT2 has been described. We evaluated the influence of the GSTT1 and GSTT2B deletion polymorphisms, and the GSTP1 Ile105Val polymorphism (rs1695) on susceptibility to oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) in the Black and Mixed Ancestry populations of South Africa.

Methods and results: The GSTT1, GSTT2B and GSTP1 variants were genotyped in 562 OSCC cases and 907 controls, and tested for association with OSCC and for interaction with smoking and alcohol consumption. Linkage disequilibrium (LD) between the deletions at GSTT1 and GSTT2B was determined, and the haplotypes tested for association with OSCC. Neither the GSTT1 deletion nor the GSTP1 Ile105Val polymorphism was associated with OSCC risk in the Black or Mixed Ancestry populations. The GSTT2B deletion was not associated with OSCC risk in the Black population, but was associated with reduced risk of OSCC in the Mixed Ancestry population (OR=0.71; 95% CI 0.57-0.90, p=0.004). Case-only analysis showed no interaction between the GST polymorphisms and smoking or alcohol consumption. LD between the neighboring GSTT1 and GSTT2B deletions was low in both populations (r(2)(Black)=0.04; r(2)(MxA)=0.07), thus these deletions should be assessed independently for effects on disease risk.

Conclusions: Although there was no association between the GSTT1 deletion polymorphism or the GSTP1 Ile105Val polymorphism with OSCC, our results suggest that the presence of the recently described GSTT2B deletion may have a protective effect on the risk of OSCC in the Mixed Ancestry South African population. This is the first report of the contribution of the GSTT2B deletion to cancer risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / ethnology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Gene Deletion*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Linkage Disequilibrium
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking
  • South Africa


  • GSTT2 protein, human
  • Glutathione Transferase