BACKGROUND - Acute leukemias of childhood are a heterogeneous group of malignancies characterized by cytogenetic abnormalities, such as translocations and changes in ploidy. These abnormalities may be influenced by altered DNA repair and cell cycle control processes.
METHODS - We examined the association between childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and 32 genes in DNA repair and cell cycle pathways using a haplotype-based approach, among 377 childhood ALL cases and 448 controls enrolled during 1995-2002.
RESULTS - We found that haplotypes in APEX1, BRCA2, ERCC2, and RAD51 were significantly associated with total ALL, while haplotypes in NBN and XRCC4, and CDKN2A were associated with structural and numerical change subtypes, respectively. In addition, we observed statistically significant interaction between exposure to 3 or more diagnostic X-rays and haplotypes of XRCC4 on risk of structural abnormality-positive childhood ALL.
CONCLUSIONS - These results support a role of altered DNA repair and cell cycle processes in the risk of childhood ALL, and show that this genetic susceptibility can differ by cytogenetic subtype and may be modified by exposure to ionizing radiation. To our knowledge, our study is the first to broadly examine the DNA repair and cell cycle pathways using a haplotype approach in conjunction with X-ray exposures in childhood ALL risk. If confirmed, future studies are needed to identify specific functional SNPs in the regions of interest identified in this analysis.