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This article is the author's final published version in Cancers, Volume 14, Issue 23, December 2022, Article number 5768.

The published version is available at Copyright © 2022 by the authors.


Environmental and occupational exposure to heavy metals, such as hexavalent chromium, nickel, and cadmium, are major health concerns worldwide. Some heavy metals are well-documented human carcinogens. Multiple mechanisms, including DNA damage, dysregulated gene expression, and aberrant cancer-related signaling, have been shown to contribute to metal-induced carcinogenesis. However, the molecular mechanisms accounting for heavy metal-induced carcinogenesis and angiogenesis are still not fully understood. In recent years, an increasing number of studies have indicated that in addition to genotoxicity and genetic mutations, epigenetic mechanisms play critical roles in metal-induced cancers. Epigenetics refers to the reversible modification of genomes without changing DNA sequences; epigenetic modifications generally involve DNA methylation, histone modification, chromatin remodeling, and non-coding RNAs. Epigenetic regulation is essential for maintaining normal gene expression patterns; the disruption of epigenetic modifications may lead to altered cellular function and even malignant transformation. Therefore, aberrant epigenetic modifications are widely involved in metal-induced cancer formation, development, and angiogenesis. Notably, the role of epigenetic mechanisms in heavy metal-induced carcinogenesis and angiogenesis remains largely unknown, and further studies are urgently required. In this review, we highlight the current advances in understanding the roles of epigenetic mechanisms in heavy metal-induced carcinogenesis, cancer progression, and angiogenesis.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.