CpG site-specific methylation as epi-biomarkers for the prediction of health risk in PAHs-exposed populations

Lizhu Ye, Zhini He, Daochuan Li, Liping Chen, Shen Chen, Ping Guo, Dianke Yu, Lu Ma, Yong Niu, Huawei Duan, Xiumei Xing, Yongmei Xiao, Xiaowen Zeng, Qing Wang, Guanghui Dong, Michael Aschner, Yuxin Zheng, Wen Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Environmental insults can lead to alteration in DNA methylation of specific genes. To address the role of altered DNA methylation in prediction of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) exposure-induced genetic damage, we recruited two populations, including diesel engine exhausts (low-level) and coke oven emissions (high-level) exposed subjects. The positive correlation was observed between the internal exposure marker (1-hydroxypyrene) and the extents of DNA damage (P < 0.05). The methylation of representative genes, including TRIM36, RASSF1a, and MGMT in peripheral blood lymphocytes was quantitatively examined by bisulfite-pyrosequencing assay. The DNA methylation of these three genes in response to PAHs exposure were changed in a CpG-site-specific manner. The identified hot CpG site-specific methylation of three genes exhibited higher predictive power for DNA damage than the respective single genes in both populations. Furthermore, the dose-response relationship analysis revealed a nonlinear U-shape curve of TRIM36 or RASSF1a methylation in combined population, which led to determination of the threshold of health risk. Furthermore, we established a prediction model for genetic damage based on the unidirectional-alteration MGMT methylation levels. In conclusion, this study provides new insight into the application of multiple epi-biomarkers for health risk assessment upon PAHs exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number128538
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - Jun 5 2022


  • DNA damage
  • DNA methylation
  • Epi-biomarkers
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) exposed subjects
  • Risk assessment
  • Specific genes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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