Open Access Open Badges Research article

Polymorphisms of XRCC1 genes and risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma in the Cantonese population

Yun Cao1, Xiao-Ping Miao2, Ma-Yan Huang1, Ling Deng1, Li-Fu Hu3, Ingemar Ernberg3, Yi-Xin Zeng1, Dong-Xin Lin2* and Jian-Yong Shao13*

Author Affiliations

1 The State Key Laboratory of Cancer Biology of Southern China and Department of Experiment, Sun Yat-Sen University Cancer Center, Guangzhou 510060, China

2 Department of Etiology and Carcinogenesis, Cancer Institute, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing 100021, China

3 Microbiology and Tumor Biology Center, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm S171 77, Sweden

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Cancer 2006, 6:167  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-167

Published: 26 June 2006



Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is one of the most common cancers in southern China. In addition to environmental factors such as Epstein-Barr virus infection and diet, genetic susceptibility has been reported to play a key role in the development of this disease. The x-ray repair cross-complementing group 1 (XRCC1) gene is important in DNA base excision repair. We hypothesized that two common single nucleotide polymorphisms of XRCC1 (codons 194 Arg→Trp and 399 Arg→Gln) are related to the risk of NPC and interact with tobacco smoking.


We sought to determine whether these genetic variants of the XRCC1 gene were associated with the risk of NPC among the Cantonese population in a hospital-based case control study using polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis. We conducted this study in 462 NPC patients and 511 healthy controls.


After adjustment for sex and age, we found a reduced risk of developing NPC in individuals with the Trp194Trp genotype (OR = 0.48; 95% CI, 0.27–0.86) and the Arg194Trp genotype (OR = 0.79; 95% CI, 0.60–1.05) compared with those with the Arg194Arg genotype. Compared with those with the Arg399Arg genotype, the risk for NPC was not significantly different in individuals with the Arg399Gln genotype (OR = 0.82; 95% CI, 0.62–1.08) and the Gln399Gln genotype (OR = 1.20; 95% CI, 0.69–2.06). Further analyses stratified by gender and smoking status revealed a significantly reduced risk of NPC among males (OR = 0.32; 95% CI, 0.14–0.70) and smokers (OR = 0.34; 95% CI, 0.14–0.82) carrying the XRCC1 194Trp/Trp genotype compared with those carrying the Arg/Arg genotype. No association was observed between Arg399Gln variant genotypes and the risk of NPC combined with smoking and gender.


Our findings suggest that the XRCC1 Trp194Trp variant genotype is associated with a reduced risk of developing NPC in Cantonese population, particularly in males and smokers. Larger studies are needed to confirm our findings and unravel the underlying mechanisms.