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Langenbecks Arch Surg. 2006 Sep;391(5):499-510. Epub 2006 Aug 15.

Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress in the genesis and perpetuation of cancer: role of lipid peroxidation, DNA damage, and repair.

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Division of Toxicology and Cancer Risk Factors, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.



Chronic inflammation, induced by biological, chemical, and physical factors, was associated with increased risk of human cancer at various sites. Chronic inflammatory processes induce oxidative/nitrosative stress and lipid peroxidation (LPO), thereby generating excess reactive oxygen species (ROS), reactive nitrogen species (RNS), and DNA-reactive aldehydes. Miscoding etheno- and propano-modified DNA bases are generated inter alia by reaction of DNA with these major LPO products. Steady-state levels of LPO-derived (etheno-) DNA adducts in organs affected by persistent inflammatory processes were investigated as potential lead markers for assessing progression of inflammatory cancer-prone diseases.


Using ultrasensitive and specific detection methods for the analysis of human tissues, cells, and urine, etheno-DNA adduct levels were found to be significantly elevated in the affected organs of subjects with chronic pancreatitis, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease. Patients with alcohol-related liver diseases showed excess hepatic DNA damage progressively increasing from hepatitis, fatty liver, to liver cirrhosis. Ethenodeoxyadenosine excreted after DNA repair in urine of hepatitis B virus-related chronic hepatitis and liver cirrhosis patients was increased up to 90-fold. Putative mechanisms that may control DNA damage in inflamed tissues including impaired or imbalanced DNA repair pathways are reviewed.


Persistent oxidative/nitrosative stress and excess LPO are induced by inflammatory processes in a self-perpetuating process and cause progressive accumulation of DNA damage in target organs. Together with deregulation of cell homeostasis, the resulting genetic changes act as driving force in chronic inflammation-associated human disease pathogenesis. Thus steady-state levels of DNA damage caused by ROS, RNS, and LPO end products provide promising molecular signatures for risk prediction and potential targets and biomarkers for preventive measures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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