Author(s): Ozturk M
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Abstract Mutations of the p53 gene are found in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common form of primary liver cancer. Specific mutations might reflect exposure to specific carcinogens and we have screened HCC samples from patients in 14 different countries to determine the frequency of a hotspot mutation at codon 249 of the tumour suppressor p53 gene. We detected mutations in 17\% of tumours (12/72) from four countries in south Africa and the southeast coast of Asia. There was no codon 249 mutation in 95 specimens of HCC from other geographical locations including North America, Europe, Middle East, and Japan. Worldwide, the presence of the codon 249 mutation in HCCs correlated with high risk of exposure to aflatoxins and the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Further studies were completed in two groups of HBV-infected patients at different risks of exposure to aflatoxins. 53\% of patients (8/15) from Mozambique at high risk of aflatoxin exposure had a tumour with a codon 249 mutation, in contrast with 8\% of patients from Transkei (1/12) who were at low risk. HCC is an endemic disease in Mozambique and accounts for up to two thirds of all tumours in men. A codon 249 mutation of the p53 gene identifies an endemic form of HCC strongly associated with dietary aflatoxin intake.
This article was published in Lancet
and referenced in Journal of Cytology & Histology