Protective effects of coffee against oxidative stress induced by the tobacco carcinogen benzo[α]pyrene

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Coffee consumption has been epidemiologically associated with a lower risk for liver cirrhosis and cancer. UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGT1A) catalyze the detoxification of reactive metabolites thereby acting as indirect antioxidants. Aim of the study was to examine UGT1A regulation in response to Benzo[α]pyrene (BaP) to elucidate the potentially protective effects of coffee on BaP-induced oxidative stress and toxicity.


In cell culture (HepG2, KYSE70 cells) and in htgUGT1A-WT mice, UGT1A transcription was activated by BaP, while it was reduced or absent htgUGT1A-SNP (containing 10 commonly occurring UGT1A-SNPs) mice. siRNA-mediated knockdown identified aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) and nuclear factor erythroid2-related factor-2 (Nrf2) as mediators of BaP-induced UGT1A upregulation. Exposure to coffee led to a reduction of BaP-induced production of reactive oxygen species in vitro and in htgUGT1A-WT and –SNP mice. After UGT1A silencing by UGT1A-specific siRNA in cell culture, the coffee-mediated reduction of ROS production was significantly impaired compared to UGT1A expressing cells.


A common UGT1A haplotype, prevalent in 9% (homozygous) of the White population, significantly impairs the expression of UGT1A enzymes in response to the putative tobacco carcinogen BaP and is likely to represent a significant risk factor for reduced detoxification and increased genotoxicity. Coffee was demonstrated to inhibit BaP-induced production of oxidative stress by UGT1A activation, and is therefore an attractive candidate for chemoprotection in risk groups for HCC or other tumors.

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