Smoking implies exposure to carcinogenic agents that causes DNA damage, which could be suspected to enhance telomere attrition. To protect and deal with DNA damage, cells possess mechanisms that repair and neutralize harmful substances. Polymorphisms altering DNA repair capacity or carcinogen metabolism may lead to synergistic effects with tobacco carcinogen-induced shorter telomere length independently of cancer interaction. The aim of this study was to explore the association between leukocyte telomere length (LTL) and several genetic polymorphisms in DNA repair genes and carcinogen metabolizers in a cohort of healthy smokers.
We evaluated the effect of six genetic polymorphisms in cytochrome P1A1 (Ile462Val), XRCC1 (Arg399Gln), APEX1 (Asp148Glu), XRCC3 (Thr241Met), and XPD (Asp312Asn; Lys751Gln) on LTL in a cohort of 145 healthy smokers in addition to smoking habits.
Logistic regression analysis showed an association between XRCC1 399Gln allele and shorter telomere length (OR = 5.03, 95% CI = 1.08% to 23.36%). There were not association between the rest of polymorphisms analyzed and LTL.
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Continuous exposure to tobacco could overwhelm the DNA repair machinery, making the effect of the polymorphisms that reduce repair capacity more pronounced. Analyzing the function of smoking-induced DNA-repair genes and LTL is an important goal in order to identify therapeutic targets to treat smoking-induced diseases.