Background: Susceptibility to head and neck cancer in a particular individual may depend in part on the metabolic balance between Phase 1 enzymes, such as cytochromes P450 (CYPs), and Phase II enzymes, such as glutathione S-transferases (GSTs). Genetic variability in CYP and GST isoenzymes may contribute to individual differences in susceptibility to chemical carcinogenesis. GSTM1 and GSTT1 null genotypes as well as polymorphic variants in the CYP1A1 gene that may help determine the risk for head and neck cancer have been described in previous reports.
Methods: Polymorphisms of GSTM1, GSTT1, and CYP1A1 in whole blood were detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 185 patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), 78 patients with benign head and neck lesions (BHNL), and 207 blood donors.
Results: GSTM1 null genotype was demonstrated to be equally frequent in patients with HNSCC (50.8%), patients with BHNL (47.4%), and blood donors (51.7%). GSTT1 null genotype occurred significantly more often in patients with BHNL (33.3%) as compared with blood donors (20.3%), demonstrating that lack of GSTT1 may be a risk factor for BHNL. Presence of the rare valine in the CYP1A1/Nco1 site was found in 33 patients with HNSCC (17.8%), in 20 patients with BHNL (25.6%), and in 34 blood donors (16.4%). The frequencies with which the presence of the rare cytosine nucleotide in the CYP1A1/Msp1 site was detected were 17.8%, 15.4%, and 15.9%, respectively.
Conclusions: The occurrence of polymorphic variants in the GSTM1, GSTT1, and CYP1A1 genes did not differ between the groups investigated, therefore indicating no significant contribution to the development of head and neck cancer.