Esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) poses a serious clinical problem due to the increasing incidence and limited treatment options. One of the strongest known risk factors for EAC is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic digestive condition in which acidic contents from the stomach, frequently mixed with duode- nal bile, enter the esophagus resulting in esophageal tissue injury. At the cellular level, gastroesophageal re- flux is characterized by continuous damage to esophageal cell DNA that increases the mutation rate and pro- motes genomic instability. GERD is common among veterans. However, only a percentage of affected individ- uals develop neoplasia, underscoring the importance of defining mechanisms that regulate tumorigenic interac- tions. We have developed an innovative hypothesis to explain how continued reflux induces tumorigenic altera- tions in the esophagus through inhibition of the DNA Damage Response (DDR), a critical tumor suppressor mechanism that is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the genome. This hypothesis is supported by strong preliminary data generated by animal and human studies. We will expand on these novel findings by detailing the impact of GERD on the DDR.
In aim 1, we will define previously unknown molecular mechanisms through which reflux inhibits the DDR.
In aim 2, we will investigate the DDR regulation in the esophageal niche using animal models of esophageal reflux injury. We will also ana- lyze human clinical specimens.
In aim 3, we will test various options to avert inhibition of the DDR induced by GERD in vivo. Combined, our studies will further elucidate the potential risk factors for tumorigenic alterations in the esophagus and lay the groundwork for novel therapeutic approaches that halt the development of malignant esophageal lesions.

Public Health Relevance

Patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma have a poor survival rate and limited treatment options, making this tumor a serious health problem. The proposed research will provide new insights into esophageal tumorigenesis and lay the groundwork for development of novel chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agents.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Veterans Affairs (VA)
Non-HHS Research Projects (I01)
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Miami VA Health Care System
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