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Am J Gastroenterol. 2008 Feb;103(2):407-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2007.01572.x.

Tumor necrosis factor-alpha polymorphisms in ulcerative colitis-associated colorectal cancer.

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Division of Experimental Pathology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN, USA.



Ulcerative colitis (UC) is characterized by chronic recurrent mucosal inflammation. Genetic studies in UC have indicated linkage to chromosome 6 in the region of the tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) gene, a potent proinflammatory cytokine. TNF-alpha production is influenced by multiple factors including the type of immune cell and its level of activation. However, several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in the promoter region of TNF-alpha have been correlated with either increased or decreased production, indicating that regulation of TNF-alpha is in part genetic. Because UC patients are at increased risk for developing colorectal cancer (CRC), we investigated if there was an association between SNPs in the promoter of the TNF-alpha gene and UC-CRC.


DNA was extracted from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue from 114 UC-CRC cases and 114 UC-no CRC controls. Controls were frequency matched on duration and extent of colitis, age, ethnicity, and gender. All 228 tissue samples were analyzed for five TNF-alpha promoter polymorphisms (-238[G-->A], -308[G-->A], -857[C-->T], -863[C-->A], and -1031[T-->C]) using PCR and sequencing.


The -308(G-->A) SNP was significantly associated with UC-CRC cases at both the allele and genotype level (P < 0.0001). No other SNPs were significantly associated with UC-CRC.


We report a novel finding of a strong association between the -308(G-->A) SNP and UC-CRC. Complete elucidation of the mechanism of UC-CRC carcinogenesis will require investigation of other genes involved in modulating inflammation, but our results suggest that some UC patients may have additional genetic predispositions toward developing UC-CRC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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