Increased Fragile Sites And Sister Chromatid Exchanges In Bone Marrow And Peripheral Blood Of Young Cigarette Smokers

Chien Song Kao-Shan, Jacqueline Whang-Peng, Elaine C. Lee

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73 Citations (Scopus)


Cigarette smoking is considered to be the single most important acquired cause of cancer mortality. Studies of chromosome aberrations, sister chromatid exchanges, and fragile sites in peripheral blood or bone marrow are useful methods to detect the effects of the environmental mutagens or carcinogens found in cigarette smoke. The effects of smoking on the immature cells in the bone marrow have not been studied. Here, we examine the peripheral blood and bone marrow in 18 smokers (15 females and 3 males) with a median age of 25 years (range, 21–40) and an average cigarette use corresponding to 6 pack years. In both bone marrow cells and peripheral blood lymphocytes, we were able to show a significantly increased frequency of sister chromatid exchanges in smokers with a 5 or more cigarette pack year history, but not in those who smoked less than 5 pack years. We also found a higher frequency of sister chromatid exchanges in peripheral blood lymphocytes than in bone marrow cells. In addition, the peripheral lymphocytes of smokers demonstrated (a) a significantly higher frequency of fragile sites, (b) an increased number of metaphases with extensive breakage; and (c) elevated expression of fragile sites at the cancer breakpoints 3pl4.2, 11q133, 22q12.2, and 11pl=13-p14.2 and at the oncogene sites bcl 1, erb B, erb A, and sis. Our results suggest that chromosomal DNA of peripheral blood lymphocytes is sensitive to cigarette smoking. Studies of the chromosomal changes in these cells provide an index of the mutagenic damage caused by these exogenous agents in individual patients and the ability of individuals to repair that damage, and might predict susceptibility to malignant events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6278-6282
Number of pages5
JournalCancer Research
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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