Molecular Pathways: Targeting Mechanisms of Asbestos and Erionite Carcinogenesis in Mesothelioma

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Molecular Pathways: Targeting Mechanisms of Asbestos and Erionite Carcinogenesis in Mesothelioma

  1. Michele Carbone1,2 and
  2. Haining Yang1,2

+ Author Affiliations

  1. Authors’ Affiliations:1University of Hawaii Cancer Center and 2Department of Pathology, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii
  1. Corresponding Author:
    Haining Yang, 651 Ilalo Street, BSB Rm. 231, Honolulu, HI 96813. Phone: 808-440-4588; Fax: 808-587-0790; E-mail:


Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive malignancy related to asbestos and erionite exposure. AP-1 transcriptional activity and the NF-?B signaling pathway have been linked to mesothelial cell transformation and tumor progression. HGF and c-Met are highly expressed in mesotheliomas. Phosphoinositide 3-kinase, AKT, and the downstream mTOR are involved in cell growth and survival, and they are often found to be activated in mesothelioma. p16INK4a and p14ARF are frequently inactivated in human mesothelioma, and ?50% of mesotheliomas contain the NF2 mutation. Molecular therapies aimed at interfering with these pathways have not improved the dismal prognosis of mesothelioma, except possibly for a small subset of patients who benefit from certain therapies. Recent studies have shown the importance of asbestos-induced inflammation in the initiation and growth of mesothelioma, and HMGB1 and Nalp3 inflammasome have been identified as key initiators of this process. Asbestos induces cell necrosis, causing the release of HMGB1, which in turn may activate Nalp3 inflammasome, a process that is enhanced by asbestos-induced production of reactive oxygen species. HMGB1 and Nalp3 induce proinflammatory responses and lead to interleukin-1? and TNF-? secretion and NF-?B activity, thereby promoting cell survival and tumor growth. Novel strategies that interfere with asbestos- and erionite-mediated inflammation might prevent or delay the onset of mesothelioma in high-risk cohorts, including genetically predisposed individuals, and/or inhibit tumor growth. The very recent discovery that germline BAP1 mutations cause a new cancer syndrome characterized by mesothelioma, uveal melanoma, and melanocytic tumors provides researchers with a novel target for prevention and early detection. Clin Cancer Res; 18(3); 598–604. ©2011 AACR.

  • Received September 15, 2011.
  • Revision received October 18, 2011.
  • Accepted October 20, 2011.
  • ©2011 American Association for Cancer Research.

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