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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Nov;1790(11):1555-68. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2009.03.006. Epub 2009 Mar 13.

Glutathione peroxidases in different stages of carcinogenesis.

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Department Biochemistry of Micronutrients, German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke, Arthur-Scheunert-Allee 114-116, D-14558 Nuthetal, Germany.


Cancer cells produce high amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and evade apoptosis. Hydroperoxides support proliferation, invasion, migration and angiogenesis, but at higher levels induce apoptosis, thus being pro- and anti-carcinogenic. Accordingly, glutathione peroxidases (GPxs) regulating hydroperoxide levels might have dual roles too. GPx1, clearly an antioxidant enzyme, is down-regulated in many cancer cells. Its main role would be prevention of cancer initiation by ROS-mediated DNA damage. GPx2 is up-regulated in cancer cells. GPx1/GPx2 double knockout mice develop colitis and intestinal cancer. However, GPx2 knockdown cancer cells grow better in vitro and in vivo probably reflecting the physiological role of GPx2 in intestinal mucosa homeostasis. GPx2 counteracts COX-2 expression and PGE(2) production, which explains its potential to inhibit migration and invasion of cultured cancer cells. Overexpression of GPx3 inhibits tumor growth and metastasis. GPx4 is decreased in cancer tissues. GPx4-overexpressing cancer cells have low COX-2 activity and tumors derived therefrom are smaller than from control cells and do not metastasize. Collectively, GPxs prevent cancer initiation by removing hydroperoxides. GPx4 inhibits but GPx2 supports growth of established tumors. Metastasis, but also apoptosis, is inhibited by all GPxs. GPx-mediated regulation of COX/LOX activities may be relevant to early stages of inflammation-mediated carcinogenesis.

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