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Biochemical Mechanisms Associating Alcohol Use Disorders with Cancers

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Chemistry, University of Salamanca, 37007 Salamanca, Spain
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Group GIR USAL: BMD (Bases Moleculares del Desarrollo), 37007 Salamanca, Spain
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Institute of Neurosciences of Castilla y León (INCYL), Laboratory of Neuroanatomy of the Peptidergic Systems, University of Salamanca, 37007 Salamanca, Spain
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Jiri Neuzil and Ajay Pratap Singh
Cancers 2021, 13(14), 3548; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13143548
Received: 17 May 2021 / Revised: 1 July 2021 / Accepted: 14 July 2021 / Published: 15 July 2021
Of all yearly deaths attributable to alcohol consumption globally, approximately 12% are due to cancers, representing approximately 0.4 million deceased individuals. Ethanol metabolism disturbs cell biochemistry by targeting the structure and function of essential biomolecules (proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids) and by provoking alterations in cell programming that lead to cancer development and cancer malignancy. A better understanding of the metabolic and cell signaling realm affected by ethanol is paramount to designing effective treatments and preventive actions tailored to specific neoplasias.
The World Health Organization identifies alcohol as a cause of several neoplasias of the oropharynx cavity, esophagus, gastrointestinal tract, larynx, liver, or female breast. We review ethanol’s nonoxidative and oxidative metabolism and one-carbon metabolism that encompasses both redox and transfer reactions that influence crucial cell proliferation machinery. Ethanol favors the uncontrolled production and action of free radicals, which interfere with the maintenance of essential cellular functions. We focus on the generation of protein, DNA, and lipid adducts that interfere with the cellular processes related to growth and differentiation. Ethanol’s effects on stem cells, which are responsible for building and repairing tissues, are reviewed. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) of different origins suffer disturbances related to the expression of cell surface markers, enzymes, and transcription factors after ethanol exposure with the consequent dysregulation of mechanisms related to cancer metastasis or resistance to treatments. Our analysis aims to underline and discuss potential targets that show more sensitivity to ethanol’s action and identify specific metabolic routes and metabolic realms that may be corrected to recover metabolic homeostasis after pharmacological intervention. Specifically, research should pay attention to re-establishing metabolic fluxes by fine-tuning the functioning of specific pathways related to one-carbon metabolism and antioxidant processes. View Full-Text
Keywords: alcohol use disorders (AUD); cancer; ethanol oxidative and nonoxidative metabolism; acetaldehyde; reactive oxygen species (ROS); DNA adducts; protein damage; cancer stem cells (CSC); epigenetic changes alcohol use disorders (AUD); cancer; ethanol oxidative and nonoxidative metabolism; acetaldehyde; reactive oxygen species (ROS); DNA adducts; protein damage; cancer stem cells (CSC); epigenetic changes
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MDPI and ACS Style

Rodriguez, F.D.; Coveñas, R. Biochemical Mechanisms Associating Alcohol Use Disorders with Cancers. Cancers 2021, 13, 3548. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13143548

AMA Style

Rodriguez FD, Coveñas R. Biochemical Mechanisms Associating Alcohol Use Disorders with Cancers. Cancers. 2021; 13(14):3548. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13143548

Chicago/Turabian Style

Rodriguez, Francisco D., and Rafael Coveñas. 2021. "Biochemical Mechanisms Associating Alcohol Use Disorders with Cancers" Cancers 13, no. 14: 3548. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13143548

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