Toenail zinc as a biomarker: Relationship with sources of environmental exposure and with genetic variability in MCC-Spain study


Background: Toenails are commonly used as biomarkers of exposure to zinc (Zn), but there is scarce information about their relationship with sources of exposure to Zn.

Objectives: To investigate the main determinants of toenail Zn, including selected sources of environmental exposure to Zn and individual genetic variability in Zn metabolism.

Methods: We determined toenail Zn by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry in 3,448 general population controls from the MultiCase-Control study MCC-Spain. We assessed dietary and supplement Zn intake using food frequency questionnaires, residential proximity to Zn-emitting industries and residential topsoil Zn levels through interpolation methods. We constructed a polygenic score of genetic variability based on 81 single nucleotide polymorphisms in genes involved in Zn metabolism. Geometric mean ratios of toenail Zn across categories of each determinant were estimated from multivariate linear regression models on log-transformed toenail Zn.

Results: Geometric mean toenail Zn was 104.1 µg/g in men and 100.3 µg/g in women. Geometric mean toenail Zn levels were 7 % lower (95 % confidence interval 1-13 %) in men older than 69 years and those in the upper tertile of fibre intake, and 9 % higher (3-16 %) in smoking men. Women residing within 3 km from Zn-emitting industries had 4 % higher geometric mean toenail Zn levels (0-9 %). Dietary Zn intake and polygenic score were unrelated to toenail Zn. Overall, the available determinants only explained 9.3 % of toenail Zn variability in men and 4.8 % in women.

Discussion: Sociodemographic factors, lifestyle, diet, and environmental exposure explained little of the individual variability of toenail Zn in the study population. The available genetic variants related to Zn metabolism were not associated with toenail Zn.

Authors: Enrique Gutiérrez-González, Pablo Fernández-Navarro, Roberto Pastor-Barriuso, Javier García-Pérez, Gemma Castaño-Vinyals, Vicente Martín-Sánchez, Pilar Amiano, Inés Gómez-Acebo, Marcela Guevara, Guillermo Fernández-Tardón, Inmaculada Salcedo-Bellido, Victor Moreno, Marina Pinto-Carbó, Juan Alguacil, Rafael Marcos-Gragera, Jesús Humberto Gómez-Gómez, José Luis Gómez-Ariza, Tamara García-Barrera, Elena Varea-Jiménez, Olivier Núñez, Ana Espinosa, Antonio J Molina de la Torre, Amaia Aizpurua-Atxega, Jessica Alonso-Molero, María Ederra-Sanz, Thalia Belmonte, Nuria Aragonés, Manolis Kogevinas, Marina Pollán, Beatriz Pérez-Gómez
; Full Source: Environment international 2022 Nov;169:107525. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2022.107525.