Identification of new markers of alcohol-derived dna damage in humans

Valeria Guidolin, Erik S. Carlson, Andrea Carrà, Peter W. Villalta, Laura A. Maertens, Stephen S. Hecht, Silvia Balbo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Alcohol consumption is a risk factor for the development of several cancers, including those of the head and neck and the esophagus. The underlying mechanisms of alcohol-induced car-cinogenesis remain unclear; however, at these sites, alcohol-derived acetaldehyde seems to play a major role. By reacting with DNA, acetaldehyde generates covalent modifications (adducts) that can lead to mutations. Previous studies have shown a dose dependence between levels of a major acet-aldehyde-derived DNA adduct and alcohol exposure in oral-cell DNA. The goal of this study was to optimize a mass spectrometry (MS)-based DNA adductomic approach to screen for all acetalde-hyde-derived DNA adducts to more comprehensively characterize the genotoxic effects of acetal-dehyde in humans. A high-resolution/-accurate-mass data-dependent constant-neutral-loss-MS3 methodology was developed to profile acetaldehyde-DNA adducts in purified DNA. This resulted in the identification of 22 DNA adducts. In addition to the expected N2-ethyldeoxyguanosine (after NaBH3CN reduction), two previously unreported adducts showed prominent signals in the mass spectra. MSn fragmentation spectra and accurate mass were used to hypothesize the structure of the two new adducts, which were then identified as N6-ethyldeoxyadenosine and N4-ethyldeoxycyti-dine by comparison with synthesized standards. These adducts were quantified in DNA isolated from oral cells collected from volunteers exposed to alcohol, revealing a significant increase after the exposure. In addition, 17 of the adducts identified in vitro were detected in these samples con-firming our ability to more comprehensively characterize the DNA damage deriving from alcohol exposures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number366
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by NIOSH-funded MCOHS ERC Pilot Research Training Program (OH008434) and by the National Cancer Institute funded Grant P01 CA-138338. Mass spec-trometry was carried out in the Analytical Biochemistry Shared Resource of the Masonic Cancer Center, supported in part by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute (Cancer Center Support Grant CA-77598).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Acetaldehyde
  • Adductomics
  • Alcohol
  • DNA adducts
  • Mass spectrometry


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