Gene-diet interactions in exposure to heterocyclic aromatic amines and bulky DNA adduct levels in blood leukocytes

Environ Mol Mutagen. 2015 Aug;56(7):609-20. doi: 10.1002/em.21950. Epub 2015 May 22.


Heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs), carcinogens produced in meat when cooked at high temperatures, are an emerging biologic explanation for the meat-colorectal cancer relationship. HAAs form DNA adducts; left unrepaired, adducts can induce mutations, which may initiate/promote carcinogenesis. The purpose of this research was to investigate the relationship between dietary HAAs, genetic susceptibility and bulky DNA adduct levels. Least squares regression was used to examine the relationship between dietary HAA exposure and bulky DNA adduct levels in blood measured using (32)P-postlabeling among 99 healthy volunteers. Gene-diet interactions between dietary HAAs and genetic factors relevant to the biotransformation of HAAs and DNA repair were also examined. No main effects of dietary HAAs on bulky DNA adduct levels was found. However, those with the putative NAT1 rapid acetylator phenotype had lower adduct levels than those with the slow acetylator phenotype (P = 0.02). Furthermore, having five or more 'at-risk' genotypes was associated with higher bulky DNA adduct levels (P = 0.03). Gene-diet interactions were observed between NAT1 polymorphisms and dietary HAAs (P < 0.05); among the slow acetylator phenotype, higher intakes of HAAs were associated with an increase in DNA adduct levels compared to lower intakes. This study provides evidence of a biologic relationship between dietary HAAs, genetic susceptibility and bulky DNA adduct formation. However, the lack of a strong main effect of HAAs suggests that dietary HAAs are not a large contributor to bulky DNA adducts in this population; future studies should consider relevant gene-diet interactions to clarify the role of HAAs in carcinogenesis.

Keywords: 32P-postlabelling; DNA adducts; MeIQx; PhIP; carcinogens; n-acetyltransferase 1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amines / toxicity
  • Carcinogens / toxicity*
  • DNA Adducts*
  • Diet
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Gene-Environment Interaction*
  • Heterocyclic Compounds / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / physiology*
  • Male
  • Meat
  • Middle Aged
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Amines
  • Carcinogens
  • DNA Adducts
  • Heterocyclic Compounds