Author(s): Hu CW, Chao MR
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Abstract Areca nut is a carcinogen to humans and has been strongly associated with oral premalignant and malignant diseases. Previous studies speculated the presence of unknown direct-acting mutagens present in aqueous extracts of areca nut. We hypothesized whether any direct-acting alkylating agents are present in areca nut and its commercial products. In this study, calf thymus DNA was treated with four different aqueous extracts obtained from unripe and ripe areca nuts or their commercial products, namely, pan masala (without tobacco) and gutkha (with tobacco). Three N-alkylated purines including N7-methylguanine (N7-MeG), N3-methyladenine (N3-MeA), and N7-ethylguanine (N7-EtG) were detected using sensitive and specific isotope-dilution liquid chromatography-tandem-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) methods. The results showed that four types of aqueous extracts significantly induced the formation of N7-MeG and N3-MeA in a linear dose-response manner. Extracts from unripe areca nut exhibited higher methylating potency than those of ripe areca nut, while gutkha had higher methylating potency than pan masala. Meanwhile, gutkha made with areca nut and tobacco, was the only extract found to induce the formation of N7-EtG. Overall, this study first demonstrated that the presence of direct-acting alkylating agents in areca nut and its commercial products exist at a level that is able to cause significant DNA damage. Our findings may provide another mechanistic rationale for areca nut-mediated oral carcinogenesis and also highlight the importance and necessity of the identification of these direct-acting alkylating agents.
This article was published in Chem Res Toxicol
and referenced in Journal of Cytology & Histology