GSTM1 null genotype in COPD and lung cancer: evidence of a modifier or confounding effect?
Robert P Young1,2, Raewyn J Hopkins1, Bryan A Hay1, Gregory D Gamble1
1Schools of Biological Science and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, 2Department of Medicine, Auckland City Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand
Background: Studies over the past two decades have reported associations between GSTM1 (glutathione S-transferase mu 1) null genotype and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or lung cancer. However, a modifier or confounding effect from COPD mediating the GSTM1 association with lung cancer has not been previously explored.
Aim and methods: This variant was examined in a case-control study of current or former smokers with COPD (n = 669), lung cancer (n = 454), or normal lung function (n = 488). Sex, age, and smoking history were comparable between groups.
Results: The GSTM1 null genotype was found to be more frequent in smokers with COPD alone (odds ratio [OR] 1.30, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.02–1.66, P = 0.031) and lung cancer (OR 1.26, 95% CI 0.96–1.65, P = 0.083) than in matched smokers with normal lung function (62%, 61%, and 56%, respectively). However, when smokers with lung cancer were subgrouped according to the presence of COPD, then the association with all COPD subjects (OR 1.34, 95% CI 1.07–1.70, P = 0.010) and with COPD and lung cancer (OR 1.50, 95% CI 1.06–2.12, P = 0.018) continued to be significant while that with lung cancer only was reduced (OR 1.11, 95% CI 0.78–1.56, P = 0.55). These associations were independent of age, sex, height, lung function, and smoking history.
Conclusion: Findings suggest that COPD is an important subphenotype of lung cancer and may underlie previously reported associations with the GSTM1 null genotype.
Keywords: lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, GSTM1, association study, polymorphism, copy number variant
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