Since nucleotide excision repair (NER) is primarily responsible for detecting and removing bulky DNA lesions induced by tobacco smoke in the respiratory tract, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in NER protein-encoding genes may influence lung cancer risk, particularly in smokers. Studies testing this hypothesis have produced inconsistent results, with most analyzing a few SNPs in relatively small population samples. In a study nested in the Beta- Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial, we examined 79 tag and previously reported risk-associated SNPs in the ERCC1, ERCC2, ERCC3, ERCC4, ERCC5, LIG1, POLE, XPA, and XPC genes in 744 lung cancer cases and 1,477 controls, all of whom were non-Hispanic white smokers. Using logistic regression, odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated to estimate lung cancer risk associated with SNP genotypes and haplotypes, adjusting for case-control matching factors. Lung cancer risk was modestly associated with LIG1 rs156640 (OR per G allele, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.08-1.40), rs156641 (OR per A allele, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.08-1.40), and rs8100261 (OR per A allele, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.76-0.98); XPA rs3176658 (OR per A allele, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.69-1.00); and ERCC2 rs50871 (OR per C allele, 1.15; 95% CI: 1.01-1.30). Associations with LIG1 and XPA, but not ERCC2, haplotypes were found. The results of this study and others suggest that inherited variants in LIG1 and possibly other NER genes may predispose to smoking-related lung cancer. Given that chance likely accounts for one or more of the associations observed, replication of our findings is needed.
Keywords: Lung cancer; genetic polymorphism; nucleotide excision repair.