Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Ground-Level Ozone Associated Global DNA Hypomethylation and Bulky DNA Adduct Formation


Studies have indicated that air pollution, including surface-level ozone (O3), can significantly influence the risk of chronic diseases. To better understand the carcinogenic mechanisms of air pollutants and identify predictive disease biomarkers, we examined the association between traffic-related pollutants with DNA methylation alterations and bulky DNA adducts, two biomarkers of carcinogen exposure and cancer risk, in the peripheral blood of 140 volunteers-95 traffic police officers, and 45 unexposed subjects. The DNA methylation and adduct measurements were performed by bisulfite-PCR and pyrosequencing and 32P-postlabeling assay. Airborne levels of benzo(a)pyrene [B(a)P], carbon monoxide, and tropospheric O3 were determined by personal exposure biomonitoring or by fixed monitoring stations. Overall, air pollution exposure was associated with a significant reduction (1.41 units) in global DNA methylation (95% C.I. -2.65-0.04, p = 0.026). The decrement in ALU repetitive elements was greatest in the policemen working downtown (95% C.I. -3.23–0.49, p = 0.008). The DNA adducts were found to be significantly increased (0.45 units) in the municipal officers with respect to unexposed subjects (95% C.I. 0.02-0.88, p = 0.039), mainly in those who were controlling traffic in downtown areas (95% C.I. 0.39-1.29, p < 0.001). Regression models indicated an increment of ALU methylation at higher B(a)P concentrations (95% C.I. 0.03-0.60, p = 0.032). Moreover, statistical models showed a decrement in ALU methylation and an increment of DNA damage only above the cut-off value of 30 µg/m3 O3. A significant increment of 0.73 units of IL-6 gene methylation was also found in smokers with respect to non-smokers. Our results highlighted the role of air pollution on epigenetic alterations and genotoxic effects, especially above the target value of 30 µg/m3 surface-level O3, supporting the necessity for developing public health strategies aimed to reduce traffic-related air pollution molecular alterations.

Authors: Armelle Munnia, Valentina Bollati, Valentina Russo, Luca Ferrari, Marcello Ceppi, Marco Bruzzone, Stefano Dugheri, Giulio Arcangeli, Franco Merlo, Marco Peluso
; Full Source: International journal of molecular sciences 2023 Jan 20;24(3):2041. doi: 10.3390/ijms24032041.