Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Telomere shortening has been suggested to be a genetic predictor for various cancers. However, evidences about this point with respect to esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in Han Chinese populations remain limited. Our previous study demonstrated that p53 Arg72Pro polymorphism was associated with the risk of human papillomavirus (HPV)-related ESCC. Telomeres and p53 play important roles in maintaining genomic stability and regulating the cell cycle. HPV impacts both telomere length stabilization and p53 degradation. Given the roles of the three factors, we evaluated leukocyte telomere length, p53 variants and HPV-16 serology to examine the potential associations between them and ESCC risk in a case-control study with 308 patients and 309 cancer-free controls matched by age and sex. Compared with long telomere length, short telomere length was significantly associated with an increased risk of ESCC (adjusted OR 2.01; 95% CI 1.41-2.80). Moreover, this association was enhanced when combined with HPV-16 seropositivity and p53 Arg/Arg or Arg/Pro genotypes. Notably, individuals with short telomere length, Arg/Pro or Arg/Arg genotypes and HPV-16 seropositivity had a 12.08-fold (95% CI 5.49-26.56) increased risk of ESCC compared to those with none of the three investigated risk factors. Taken together, these results indicate that short telomere length in peripheral blood leukocytes is a biomarker for ESCC risk, and has statistically additive effects with p53 variants and HPV seropositivity with regard to the risk of ESCC in a Han Chinese population.