Bidirectional Mendelian randomization analysis of the genetic association between primary lung cancer and colorectal cancer

J Transl Med. 2023 Oct 15;21(1):722. doi: 10.1186/s12967-023-04612-7.


Background: With the development and popularization of low-dose chest CT technology, the diagnosis and survival rates of patients with early lung cancer (LC) have significantly improved. The occurrence of colorectal cancer (CRC) as the second primary cancer (SPC) in primary lung cancer (PLC) survivors has become an essential factor affecting the prognosis of early LC. This study explored the potential association between PLC and CRC genetically, laying a foundation for developing SPC-CRC prevention strategies after primary early LC.

Methods: Based on a two-sample bidirectional Mendelian randomization (MR) design, this study systematically screened genetic instrumental variables (IVs) based on the genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of PLC and CRC, applied inverse variance weighted (IVW) as the main method to assess the incidence association between the two cancers, and used a variety of other MR methods for supplementary analysis. Finally, the Genetic Risk Scores (GRS) method was used for secondary analysis to verify the results robustness further.

Results: From LC to CRC forward MR analysis, 20 genetic IVs of overall LC, 15 genetic IVs of squamous cell lung carcinoma (LUSC), and 10 genetic IVs of adenocarcinoma of the lung (LUAD) were screened. In the reverse MR analysis from CRC to LC, 47 genetic IVs for overall CRC, 37 for colon cancer, and 25 for rectal cancer were screened. The IVW method and a variety of MR methods all found that overall LC and CRC were significantly associated at the genetic level. Subgroup analysis also showed that LUSC was associated with CRC. And the results of the GRS method were consistent with those of the main analysis, confirming the robustness of the study. Our MR study found an association between LC and CRC, with an increased risk of SPC-CRC following PLC, especially LUSC. Our study provides an essential basis for the precise prevention of SPC-CRC after PLC, suggesting that we should pay more attention to the population with a history of PLC in clinical work, and pay close attention to the incidence of SPC-CRC, and carry out intervention and treatment as soon as possible.

Keywords: Colorectal cancer; GRS; Lung cancer; Mendelian randomization.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung*
  • Colonic Neoplasms*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Mendelian Randomization Analysis
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics