Explosive increases in skin cancers have been reported in more than 36 million patients with arsenicosis caused by drinking arsenic-polluted well water. This study and previous studies showed high levels of barium as well as arsenic in the well water. However, there have been no reports showing a correlation between barium and cancer. In this study, we examined whether barium (BaCl(2)) may independently have cancer-related effects on human precancerous keratinocytes (HaCaT). Barium (5-50 µM) biologically promoted anchorage-independent growth and invasion of HaCaT cells in vitro. Barium (5 µM) biochemically enhanced activities of c-SRC, FAK, ERK and MT1-MMP molecules, which regulate anchorage-independent growth and/or invasion. A SRC kinase specific inhibitor, protein phosphatase 2 (PP2), blocked barium-mediated promotion of anchorage-independent growth and invasion with decreased c-SRC kinase activity. Barium (2.5-5 µM) also promoted anchorage-independent growth and invasion of fibroblasts (NIH3T3) and immortalized nontumorigenic melanocytes (melan-a), but not transformed cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (HSC5 and A431) and malignant melanoma (Mel-ret) cells, with activation of c-SRC kinase. Taken together, our biological and biochemical findings newly suggest that the levels of barium shown in drinking well water independently has the cancer-promoting effects on precancerous keratinocytes, fibroblast and melanocytes in vitro.
Thang, N. D., Yajima, I., Kumasaka, M. Y., Ohnuma, S., Yanagishita, T., Hayashi, R., … Kato, M. (2011). Barium promotes anchorage-independent growth and invasion of human HaCaT keratinocytes via activation of c-SRC kinase. PLoS ONE, 6(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0025636