Author(s): Budnik LT, Kloth S, Baur X, Preisser AM, Schwarzenbach H
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Abstract There is a need for a panel of suitable biomarkers for detection of environmental chemical exposure leading to the initiation or progression of degenerative diseases or potentially, to cancer. As the peripheral blood may contain increased levels of circulating cell-free DNA in diseased individuals, we aimed to evaluate this DNA as effect biomarker recognizing vulnerability after exposure to environmental chemicals. We recruited 164 individuals presumably exposed to halo-alkane-based pesticides. Exposure evaluation was based on human biomonitoring analysis; as biomarker of exposure parent halo-methanes, -ethanes and their metabolites, as well as the hemoglobin-adducts methyl valine and hydroxyl ethyl valine in blood were used, complemented by expert evaluation of exposure and clinical intoxication symptoms as well as a questionnaire. Assessment showed exposures to halo alkanes in the concentration range being higher than non-cancer reference doses (RfD) but (mostly) lower than the occupational exposure limits. We quantified circulating DNA in serum from 86 individuals with confirmed exposure to off-gassing halo-alkane pesticides (in storage facilities or in home environment) and 30 non-exposed controls, and found that exposure was significantly associated with elevated serum levels of circulating mitochondrial DNA (in size of 79 bp, mtDNA-79, p = 0.0001). The decreased integrity of mtDNA (mtDNA-230/mtDNA-79) in exposed individuals implicates apoptotic processes (p = 0.015). The relative amounts of mtDNA-79 in serum were positively associated with the lag-time after intoxication to these chemicals (r = 0.99, p<0.0001). Several months of post-exposure the specificity of this biomarker increased from 30\% to 97\% in patients with intoxication symptoms. Our findings indicate that mitochondrial DNA has a potential to serve as a biomarker recognizing vulnerable risk groups after exposure to toxic/carcinogenic chemicals.
This article was published in PLoS One
and referenced in Journal of Nanomedicine & Nanotechnology