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Journal of Oncology
Volume 2011, Article ID 654931, 14 pages
Review Article

Epigenetic Effects and Molecular Mechanisms of Tumorigenesis Induced by Cigarette Smoke: An Overview

1Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, National Cheng Kung University Medical College, 138 Sheng-Li Road, Tainan 70428, Taiwan
2Institute of Molecular Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan 70428, Taiwan
3Department of Medical Sciences, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung 80708, Taiwan
4Division of Environmental Health and Occupational Medicine, National Health Research Institutes, No. 35 Keyan Road, Zhunan Town, Miaoli County 350, Taiwan
5Sustainable Environment Research Centre, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan 70955, Taiwan

Received 15 December 2010; Accepted 24 January 2011

Academic Editor: David Z. Qian

Copyright © 2011 Rong-Jane Chen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cigarette smoking is one of the major causes of carcinogenesis. Direct genotoxicity induced by cigarette smoke leads to initiation of carcinogenesis. Nongenotoxic (epigenetic) effects of cigarette smoke also act as modulators altering cellular functions. These two effects underlie the mechanisms of tumor promotion and progression. While there is no lack of general reviews on the genotoxic and carcinogenic potentials of cigarette smoke in lung carcinogenesis, updated review on the epigenetic effects and molecular mechanisms of cigarette smoke and carcinogenesis, not limited to lung, is lacking. We are presenting a comprehensive review of recent investigations on cigarette smoke, with special attentions to nicotine, NNK, and PAHs. The current understanding on their molecular mechanisms include (1) receptors, (2) cell cycle regulators, (3) signaling pathways, (4) apoptosis mediators, (5) angiogenic factors, and (6) invasive and metastasis mediators. This review highlighted the complexity biological responses to cigarette smoke components and their involvements in tumorigenesis.