Transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGFbeta1) is a multifunctional signalling molecule with a wide array of roles. Animal experiments suggest that TGFbeta1 plays a biphasic role in carcinogenesis by protecting against the early formation of benign epithelial growths, but promoting malignant transformation of those growths that do develop. A polymorphism in the signal peptide sequence of the TGFbeta1 gene (L10P) has been associated with increased levels of plasma TGFbeta1 in individuals with the P allele.
We investigated whether this polymorphism was associated with the risk of colorectal adenomatous or hyperplastic polyps in a case-control study of individuals from Minnesota. Risk of colorectal polyps was evaluated separately for individuals with adenomatous polyps (n = 513) and hyperplastic polyps (n = 191) relative to polyp-free controls (n = 606) using logistic regression analysis.
No overall association was seen between the L10P polymorphism and risk of colorectal adenomatous polyps. The age- and sex-adjusted odds ratios (OR) of developing colorectal hyperplastic polyps were 1.0 (95% CI: 0.7, 1.4) and 0.7 (95% CI: 0.4, 1.1) for individuals with the LP and PP genotypes, respectively, compared with individuals with the LL genotype. When stratified by smoking, evidence for a decreased risk of hyperplastic polyps associated with the P allele was seen only among ever smokers (P for trend = 0.05).
Whereas adenoma risk did not vary by TGFbeta1 L10P genotype, these results suggest that the L10P variant allele may have a protective role in the development of colorectal hyperplastic polyps, possibly consistent with its role as an inhibitor of epithelial growths.