Exposure to particulate matter has been recognized as a contributing factor to lung cancer development for some time, but a new study indicates inhalation of certain particulates can actually cause some genes to become reprogrammed, affecting both the development and the outcome of cancers and other diseases.
"Recently, changes in gene programming due to a chemical transformation called methylation have been found in the blood and tissues of lung cancer patients," said investigator Andrea Baccarelli, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of applied biotechnology at the University of Milan. "We aimed at investigating whether exposure to particulate matter induced changes in DNA methylation in blood from healthy subjects who were exposed to high levels of particulate matter in a foundry facility."
Researchers enrolled 63 healthy subjects who worked in a foundry near Milan, Italy. Blood DNA samples were collected on the morning of the first day of the work week, and again after three days of work. Comparing these samples revealed that significant changes had occurred in four genes associated with tumor suppression.
"The changes were detectable after only three days of exposure to particulate matter, indicating that environmental factors need little time to cause gene reprogramming which is potentially associated with disease outcomes," Baccarelli said.
"As several of the effects of particulate matter in foundries are similar to those found after exposure to ambient air pollution, our results open new hypotheses about how air pollutants modify human health," he added. "The changes in DNA methylation we observed are reversible and some of them are currently being used as targets of cancer drugs."
Baccarelli said the study results indicate that early interventions might be designed which would reverse gene programming to normal levels, reducing the health risks of exposure.
"We need to evaluate how the changes in gene reprogramming we observed are related to cancer risk," he said. "Down the road, it will be particularly important not only to show that these changes are associated with increased risk of cancer or other environmentally-induced diseases, but that, if we were able to prevent or revert them, these risks could be eliminated."
The research will be presented on Sunday, May 17, at the 105th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego.
Session # A45: "Genetic Basis for Environmental and Occupational Respiratory Diseases"
Abstract # 2589: "Effects of Particulate Matter Exposure on p16, p53, APC and RASSF1A Promoter Methylation"
Poster Board # C51
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Suggestion: The EM Drive Is Getting The Appropriate Level Of Attention From The Science Community
- Animal Sex Is Spicier Than We Thought
- It's Naive To Pretend Differences Between Women And Men Are Just Genetics
- Bang! Meet The Highest-Energy Hadron Collision Ever Imaged!
- New Ice Age Is Coming, By 2030, Says Analysis
- Will Aspartame Critics Now Be Less Bitter?
- GMOs Have Formaldehyde? Bizarre Claim Challenged By Experts
- "Uh, Hank is our president now. And we see eye to eye on just about everything. I was responding..."
- "The cause of hangovers is not known. Let me suggest the most likely, and something none of you..."
- "Like ethanol, but with only one carbon instead of two, methanol even more readily enters every..."
- "Somehow, this makes even less sense then what you wrote before. ESL?..."
- "Quite aside from the fact that your arithmetic is horrid, your chemistry is even worse. When a..."
- Genetic tug of war in the brain influences behavior
- New method to predict the amount of nicotine emitted from e-cigarettes
- How bees naturally vaccinate their babies
- Mild hypothermia in deceased organ donors improves organ function in kidney transplant
- Trying to quit smoking? First strengthen self-control