Hepatocellular carcinoma (hepatocarcinoma) is a major type of primary liver cancer and one of the most frequent human malignant neoplasms. Aflatoxins are I-type chemical carcinogen for hepatocarcinoma. Increasing evidence has shown that hepatocarcinoma induced by aflatoxins is the result of interaction between aflatoxins and hereditary factor. Aflatoxins can induce DNA damage including DNA strand break, adducts formation, oxidative DNA damage, and gene mutation and determine which susceptible individuals feature cancer. Inheritance such as alterations may result in the activation of proto-oncogenes and the inactivation of tumor suppressor genes and determine individual susceptibility to cancer. Interaction between aflatoxins and genetic susceptible factors commonly involve in almost all pathologic sequence of hepatocarcinoma: chronic liver injury, cirrhosis, atypical hyperplastic nodules, and hepatocarcinoma of early stages. In this review, we discuss the biogenesis, toxification, and epidemiology of aflatoxins and signal pathways of aflatoxin-induced hepatocarcinoma. We also discuss the roles of some important genes related to cell apoptosis, DNA repair, drug metabolism, and tumor metastasis in hepatocarcinogenesis related to aflatoxins.
Part of the book: Liver Research and Clinical Management