SEGH Articles

Chronic cadmium exposure promotes nasopharyngeal carcinoma progression and radioresistance

24 January 2019
Dr Lin Peng and her team investigate how environmental pollutant exposure influences the risk of cancer development and therapeutic resistance at the Clinical Laboratory, Cancer Hospital of Shantou University Medical College, China.

Dr Lin Peng, Associate Chief Physician, works in Clinical Laboratory, Cancer Hospital of Shantou University Medical College in China. The research team she leads focuses on environmental pollutant exposure and the risk of cancer development and therapeutic resistance. Her team has recently published research results highlighting the association between cadmium and breast cancer, connecting gastrointestinal cancer risk to cadmium and lead exposure and the association of polychlorinated biphenyls/polybrominated diphenyl ethers with breast cancer risk.

Lin Peng analysing blood samples

Lin Peng analysing blood samples

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a unique malignancy with a high prevalence in East and Southeast Asia, especially in southern China. The unique ethnic and geographical distribution of NPC indicates hereditary factor and environmental factors may contribute to its unusual etiology. But to date, only nitrosamine, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and nickel are regarded as environmental risk factors in the development and progression of NPC. Cadmium is a ubiquitous carcinogenic pollutant related with some human cancers. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the association between chronic low-concentration cadmium exposure and NPC progression and radiosensitivity.

Hospital-based 134 NPC cases and 132 cancer-free controls were recruited, the blood cadmium levels of whom were detected by graphite furnace atomizer absorption spectrophotometer and the basic clinical data and demographic characteristics were collected. To further confirm the effect of cadmium on NPC progression and radiosensitivity in vitro and in vivo, NPC cell lines CNE-1 and CNE-2 were continuously exposed with 1 μM cadmium chloride for 10 weeks. MTT assay, colony formation assay and xenograft tumor growth were used to assess cell viability and radiosensitivity. Transwell assays were performed to detect cell invasion and migration. The median concentration of blood cadmium in cases (3.84, IQR 2.21–6.10) was found significantly higher than that of controls (2.28, IQR 1.79–3.45) (P<0.001). Meanwhile, blood cadmium levels were positively associated with clinical stages and N classification (r=0.193, 0.187, respectively, P<0.05). MTT assay and colony formation assays showed that the cell proliferation in cadmium exposed NPC cells was significantly increased compared to the parental cells (P<0.05). Also, the invasive and migrative capacity of cadmium-treated NPC cells was markedly increased over 1.40-(P<0.01) and 1.30-(P<0.01) fold of the controls, respectively. In particular, xenograft tumours with cadmium-treated NPC cells exhibited increased tumour growth and radioresistance compared to transplanted controls(P<0.05). These results reveal the stimulative effect of chronic low-dose cadmium exposure on malignant progression and radioresistance of NPC for the first time.

 Lin Peng at the 34th International Conference of SEGH in Livingstone, Zambia

Lin Peng at the 34th SEGH International Conference in Livingstone, Zambia


 Lin Peng1,2,, Yi-Teng Huang3, Jiong-Yu Chen4*, Xia Huo5*

1 Clinical Laboratory, Cancer Hospital of Shantou University Medical College, No. 7 Raoping Road, Shantou 515041, PR China.

2 Laboratory of Environmental Medicine and Developmental Toxicology, Shantou University Medical College, No. 22 Xinling Road, Shantou 515041, PR China.

3 Health Care Center, The First Affiliated Hospital of Shantou University Medical College, Shantou 515041, PR China.

4 Oncological Research Lab, Cancer Hospital of Shantou University Medical College, No. 7 Raoping Road, Shantou 515031, PR China.

5 Laboratory of Environmental Medicine and Developmental Toxicology, Guangzhou and Guangdong Key Laboratory of Environmental Pollution and Health, School of Environment, Jinan University, 601 Huangpu Avenue West, Guangzhou 510632, PR, China

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