Role of retinoic acid in the modulation of benzo(a)pyrene-DNA adducts in human hepatoma cells: Implications for cancer prevention

Guo Dong Zhou, Molly Richardson, Inayat S. Fazili, Jianbo Wang, Kirby C. Donnelly, Fen Wang, Brad Amendt, Bhagavatula Moorthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Carcinogen-DNA adducts could lead to mutations in critical genes, eventually resulting in cancer. Many studies have shown that retinoic acid (RA) plays an important role in inducing cell apoptosis. Here we have tested the hypothesis that levels of carcinogen-DNA adducts can be diminished by DNA repair and/or by eliminating damaged cells through apoptosis. Our results showed that the levels of total DNA adducts in HepG2 cells treated with benzo(a)pyrene (BP, 2μM) + RA (1μM) were significantly reduced compared to those treated with BP only (P=0.038). In order to understand the mechanism of attenuation of DNA adducts, further experiments were performed. Cells were treated with BP (4μM) for 24 h to initiate DNA adduct formation, following which the medium containing BP was removed, and fresh medium containing 1μM RA was added. The cells were harvested 24 h after RA treatment. Interestingly, the levels of total DNA adducts were lower in the BP/RA group (390 ± 34) than those in the BP/DMSO group (544 ± 33), P=0.032. Analysis of cell apoptosis showed an increase in BP. +. RA group, compared to BP or RA only groups. Our results also indicated that attenuation of BP-DNA adducts by RA was not primarily due to its effects on CYP1A1 expression. In conclusion, our results suggest a mechanistic link between cellular apoptosis and DNA adduct formation, phenomena that play important roles in BP-mediated carcinogenesis. Furthermore, these results help understand the mechanisms of carcinogenesis, especially in relation to the chemopreventive properties of nutritional apoptosis inducers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-230
Number of pages7
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 15 2010


  • Apoptosis
  • Benzo(a)pyrene
  • DNA adducts
  • DNA repair
  • HepG2
  • P-Postlabeling assay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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