Variation in ribosomal DNA copy number is associated with lung cancer risk in a prospective cohort study

H. Dean Hosgood, Wei Hu, Nathaniel Rothman, Madelyn Klugman, Stephanie J. Weinstein, Jarmo R. Virtamo, Demetrius Albanes, Richard Cawthon, Qing Lan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Disruption of ribosomal DNA (rDNA) has been linked to a variety of diseases in humans, including carcinogenesis. To evaluate the associations between rDNA copy number (CN) and risk of lung cancer, we measured 5.8S and 18S rDNA CN in the peripheral blood of 229 incident lung cancer cases and 1:1 matched controls from a nested case-control study within a prospective cohort of male smokers. There was a dose-response relationship between quartiles of both 18S and 5.8S rDNA CN and risk of lung cancer (odds ratio [OR], 95% confidence interval [CI]: 18S: 1.0 [ref]; 1.2 [0.6-2.1]; 1.8 [1.0-3.4]; 2.3 [1.3-4.1; Ptrend = 0.0002; 5.8S: 1.0 [ref]; 1.6 [0.8-2.9]; 2.2 [1.1-4.2]; 2.6 [1.3-5.1]; Ptrend = 0.0001). The associations between rDNA CN and lung cancer risk were similar when excluding cases diagnosed within 5 years of follow-up, and when stratifying by heavy (>20 cigarettes per day) and light smokers (≤20 cigarettes per day). We are the first to report that rDNA CN may be associated with future risk of lung cancer. To further elucidate the relationship between rDNA and lung cancer, replication studies are needed in additional populations, particularly those that include non-smokers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)975-978
Number of pages4
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 22 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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