Accelerated progression of asbestos-induced mesotheliomas in heterozygous p53+/- mice

Charles A Vaslet, Norma J Messier, Agnes B Kane
Toxicological Sciences: An Official Journal of the Society of Toxicology 2002, 68 (2): 331-8
Asbestos fibers produce diffuse malignant mesotheliomas in chronic rodent inhalation assays or after direct intrapleural or intraperitoneal injection. In vitro models have provided evidence that asbestos fibers are genotoxic carcinogens that can directly or indirectly generate reactive oxygen- and nitrogen-derived species that cause DNA damage. Heterozygous p53+/- mice show an increased incidence and reduced latency of malignant mesotheliomas induced by weekly intraperitoneal injections of crocidolite asbestos fibers. In this study, we investigated whether loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the p53 tumor-suppressor gene locus contributes to accelerated tumor progression. LOH was found in 50% of the tumors produced in heterozygous p53+/- mice. In contrast to tumors that arise in p53+/+ mice or those that retained one p53 allele, LOH was associated with large tumor masses with central areas of necrosis, local invasion, and penetration of lymphatics. Increased tumor size was not associated with increased levels of cell proliferation as determined by BrdU incorporation, but it was correlated with a reduction in apoptosis as determined morphologically and by the TUNEL assay. Wild-type p53 protein is essential for cell cycle arrest in response to DNA damage and in maintenance of genomic stability. Cell lines established from tumors that showed LOH at the p53 tumor-suppressor gene locus were nearly tetraploid. These results suggest that p53 haplo-insufficiency sensitizes mice to the clastogenic or aneuploidogenic effects of crocidolite asbestos fibers, resulting in a shorter latent period. As solid tumors develop, spontaneous loss of the wild-type allele accompanied by decreased apoptosis and genetic instability is associated with accelerated tumor growth, invasion, and lymphatic dissemination.

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