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Cancer Invest. 2007 Dec;25(8):668-77.

Telomere length in hepatocellular carcinoma and paired adjacent non-tumor tissues by quantitative PCR.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, New York, New York, New York, USA. yz6@columbia.edu


Telomere shortening limits the proliferative capacity of human cells, restrains the regenerative capacity of organ systems during chronic diseases and aging and also induces chromosomal instability as well as initiation of cancer. Previous studies demonstrated that telomeres are often significantly shorter in tumor tissue, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), compared to the surrounding tissue, but telomere length in HCC tissues was not correlated with several clinical parameters, such as age, sex, HBV or HCV infections and tumor size. In the present study, the telomere length ratio of 36 paired HCC, and their adjacent non-tumor tissues was measured by quantitative PCR (Q-PCR). The mean telomere lengths (SD) for HCC and adjacent non-tumor tissues were 0.26 (0.10) and 0.47 (0.20) respectively (t = 6.22, P < 0.0001). There was a large difference in the distribution of subjects based on telomere length in tumor and adjacent non-tumor tissues. The number of tumors with telomere length shorter than 0.50 was much higher than that of adjacent non-tumor tissues; more than 90% of the tissues with telomere length > or = 0.50 were adjacent non-tumor tissues. The correlations between telomere length and aflatoxin B1- and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-DNA adducts level, p53 mutations and p16 hypermethylation status were also tested, but no significant associations were found. The relationship between telomere length shortening, chemical carcinogen exposure, and genetic and epigenetic changes in hepatocarcinogenesis needs further investigation.

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