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Ability to eliminate harmful substances

Xenobiotics are chemical substances that are foreign to animal life and that can cause damage to the organism either directly or through the substances originated after their metabolism. This includes substances such as smoking-induced oxidative substances, drugs, pesticides, cosmetics, food additives, industrial chemicals and environmental pollutants.

Benzene is an important industrial chemical that is ubiquitous in the environment owing to vaporization from petroleum products and combustion of hydrocarbons. Numerous enzyme systems are involved in the metabolism of benzene and its metabolites that take part mainly in the liver: Cytochrome enzymes (CYP), microsomal epoxide hydrolase (EPHX), various glutathione-S transferases (GSTs), NAD(P)H, quinone oxidoreductase (NQO1) and peroxidases; all of them are considered detoxifying enzymes. Here we focus in the EPHX gene which polymorphisms have been associated with several types of cancer and other pathologies; In particular, lung and colorectal cancers show the most convincing evidence.

Gene or region studied

  • EPHX1
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