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Int J Cancer. 1997 Jan 17;70(2):145-9.

Presence and persistence of serum anti-benzo[a]pyrene diolepoxide-DNA adduct antibodies in smokers: effects of smoking reduction and cessation.

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Respiratory Pathophysiology Unit, University of Pisa, Italy.


Among biomarkers of tobacco smoke (TS)-induced genotoxic damage, benzo[a]pyrene diolepoxide-DNA adducts (BPDE-DNA) are extensively studied. Adducted DNA becomes antigenic and antibodies anti-BPDE-DNA (BPDE-DNA-Abs) may be found in serum of exposed subjects. Little is known about the persistence of BPDE-DNA, and no study has been performed to evaluate the persistence of BPDE-DNA-Abs after cessation of exposure. Fifty heavy smokers, enrolled in a smoking cessation program with nicotine patch substitution therapy, were evaluated for the presence of BPDE-DNA-Abs before (w0) and 1, 3, 6 and 12 weeks (w1-12) after the start of the program. Nicotine or placebo patches were randomly assigned to the subjects. BPDE-DNA-Abs were determined in serum by non-competitive ELISA. After the start of the cessation program, 28 subjects quit smoking (group Q) and the other 22 reduced by about 75% the number of cigarettes smoked per day (group R). At the start of the program (w0) 8% of subjects were positive. At w1 the prevalence of positivity had increased both in subjects who quit smoking (Q: 21%) and in subjects who had reduced the number of cigarettes per day (R: 27%). Positivity remained stable up to w12 (21%) for group Q, whereas it increased to 41% in group R. Serum BPDE-DNA-Abs can be detected in smokers, and their persistence for months after smoking cessation suggests their usefulness for relatively long-term surveys. The low percentage of positivity in actual heavy smokers and the increase in antibody positivity with smoking cessation or reduction must be taken into account when interpreting serum BPDE-DNA-Ab measurement in exposed individuals.

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