Prevalence of homozygosity for the deleted alleles of glutathione S-transferase mu (GSTM1) and theta (GSTT1) among distinct ethnic groups from Brazil: relevance to environmental carcinogenesis?

Clin Genet. 1998 Sep;54(3):210-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0004.1998.tb04286.x.


Environmental related diseases due to occupational carcinogens and toxic substances are a serious problem particularly in developing countries. The glutathione S-transferase system is fundamental for the detoxification of numerous carcinogens and mutagens. The individual inherited susceptibility to chemical carcinogenesis due to glutathione S-transferase mu (GSTM1) and theta (GSTT1) varies significantly among distinct ethnic groups. In this study we determined the prevalence of the null genotype of the GSTM1 and GSTT1 genes among individuals from three distinct Brazilian racial groups using a multiplex-PCR methodology. The results showed that the highest prevalence of the null genotype for the GSTM1 occurred among Caucasians (55%, allele frequency = 0.74), followed by 33% among Brazilian Black subjects (allele frequency = 0.57), and 20% among Amazonian Indians (allele frequency = 0.45). For GSTT1 a homogenous distribution of the null genotype was found among Caucasian and African descendants (18.5 and 19% homozygotes, respectively, allele frequency = 0.43), with a lower prevalence among Amazonian Indians (11% of homozygotes, allele frequency = 0.34). Whether the deficiency of the GST system contributes to a predisposition to environmental related carcinogenesis in specific populations in Brazil remains to be determined.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Brazil
  • Carcinogens, Environmental*
  • Ethnicity / genetics*
  • Gene Deletion*
  • Gene Frequency
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics*
  • Homozygote*


  • Carcinogens, Environmental
  • glutathione S-transferase T1
  • Glutathione Transferase