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Cancer Res. 2013 May 1;73(9):2897-904. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-3980. Epub 2013 Feb 25.

Hepatocarcinogenesis driven by GSNOR deficiency is prevented by iNOS inhibition.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common and deadly human cancers and it remains poorly managed. Human HCC development is often associated both with elevated expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and with genetic deletion of the major denitrosylase S-nitrosoglutathione reductase (GSNOR/ADH5). However, their causal involvement in human HCC is not established. In mice, GSNOR deficiency causes S-nitrosylation and depletion of the DNA repair protein O6-alkylguanine-DNA-alkyltransferase (AGT) and increases rates of both spontaneous and DEN carcinogen-induced HCC. Here, we report that administration of 1400W, a potent and highly selective inhibitor of iNOS, blocked AGT depletion and rescued the repair of mutagenic O6-ethyldeoxyguanosines following DEN challenge in livers of GSNOR-deficient (GSNOR(-/-)) mice. Notably, short-term iNOS inhibition following DEN treatment had little effect on carcinogenesis in wild-type mice, but was sufficient to reduce HCC multiplicity, maximal size, and burden in GSNOR(-/-) mice to levels comparable with wild-type controls. Furthermore, increased HCC susceptibility in GSNOR(-/-) mice was not associated with an increase in interleukin 6, tumor necrosis factor-α, oxidative stress, or hepatocellular proliferation. These results suggested that GSNOR deficiency linked to defective DNA damage repair likely acts at the tumor initiation stage to promote HCC carcinogenesis. Together, our findings provide the first proof of principle that HCC development in the context of uncontrolled nitrosative stress can be blocked by pharmacologic inhibition of iNOS, possibly providing an effective therapy for patients with HCC.

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