The formation of SCEs as an effect of occupational exposure to formaldehyde


Formaldehyde (FA) is a ubiquitous toxic chemical employed worldwide due to its disinfectant and preservative properties. Despite being classified as a human carcinogen, FA is still employed as formalin in pathology wards as standard fixative. We evaluated its relationship with the formation of sister-chromatid exchanges (SCEs) in cultured peripheral blood lymphocytes on 57 pathologists and 48 controls and the risk/protective role played by several genetic polymorphisms. All subjects were assessed for SCEs and genotyped for the most common cancer-associated gene polymorphisms: CYP1A1 exon 7 (A > G), CYP1A1*2A (T > C), CYP2C19*2 (G > A), GSTT1 (presence/absence), GSTM1 (presence/absence), GSTP1 (A > G), XRCC1 (G399A), XRCC1 (C194T), XRCC1 (A280G), XPC exon 15 (A939C), XPC exon 9 (C499T), TNFα – 308 G > A), IL10 – 1082 (G > A), and IL6 – 174 (G > C). Air-FA concentration was assessed through passive personal samplers. Pathologists, exposed to 55.2 μg/m3 of air-FA, showed a significantly higher SCEs frequency than controls, exposed, respectively, to 18.4 μg/m3. Air-FA was directly correlated with SCEs frequency and inversely with the replication index (RI). Regression models showed FA exposure as a significant predictor in developing SCEs, while did not highlight any role of the selected polymorphisms. Our study confirms the role of low air-FA levels as genotoxicity inductor, highlighting the importance to define exposure limits that could be safer for exposed workers.

Authors: Federica Ghelli, Enrico Cocchi, Valeria Bellisario, Martina Buglisi, Giulia Squillacioti, Alfredo Santovito, Roberto Bono
; Full Source: Archives of toxicology 2022 Feb 12. doi: 10.1007/s00204-022-03238-w.