Schistosome and liver fluke derived catechol-estrogens and helminth associated cancers

José M. Correia da Costa, Nuno Vale, Maria João Gouveia, Mónica C. Botelho, Banchob Sripa, Lúcio Lara Santos, Júlio Henrique Santos, Gabriel Rinaldi, Paul J. Brindley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Infection with helminth parasites remains a persistent public health problem in developing countries. Three of these pathogens, the liver flukes Clonorchis sinensis, Opisthorchis viverrini and the blood fluke Schistosoma haematobium, are of particular concern due to their classification as Group 1 carcinogens: infection with these worms is carcinogenic. Using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) approaches, we identified steroid hormone like (e.g. oxysterol-like, catechol estrogen quinone-like, etc.) metabolites and related DNA adducts, apparently of parasite origin, in developmental stages including eggs of S. haematobium, in urine of people with urogenital schistosomiasis, and in the adult stage of Opisthorchis viverrini. Since these kinds of sterol derivatives are metabolized to active quinones that can modify DNA, which in other contexts can lead to breast and other cancers, helminth parasite associated sterols might induce tumor-like phenotypes in the target cells susceptible to helminth parasite associated cancers, i.e. urothelial cells of the bladder in the case of urogenital schistosomiasis and the bile duct epithelia or cholangiocytes, in the case of O. viverrini and C. sinensis. Indeed we postulate that helminth induced cancers originate from parasite estrogen host epithelial/urothelial cell chromosomal DNA adducts, and here we review recent findings that support this conjecture.

Original languageEnglish
Article number444
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
Issue numberDEC
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Biliary tree
  • Bladder
  • Catechol-estrogens
  • Cholangiocarcinoma
  • DNA adducts
  • Epithelia
  • Fluke
  • Neglected tropical disease-associated-cancer
  • Opisthorchiasis
  • Oxysterols
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Trematode
  • Urogenital schistosomiasis


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