Exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons leads to non-monotonic modulation of DNA and RNA (hydroxy)methylation in a rat model.
- Human Biomonitoring Research Unit
Besides genetic modifications, rapidly growing evidence has linked environmental pollutants with epigenetic variations. To date, only a few studies have been performed on DNA methylation changes of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which showed contradictory results. These discrepancies might be partially explained by differences in used agents. Generally in in vitro studies, a single compound is used, while in humans environmental studies, multi-residue exposure is investigated. The present study aimed to study epigenetic alterations induced by multi-residue exposure to PAH. Female Long Evans rats were exposed to a mixture of 16 US-EPA priority PAH, 3 times per week over a 90-day period. The livers were used to assess the (hydroxy)methylation status of genomic DNA/RNA, together with reduced and oxidized forms of glutathione. The results of this study demonstrate that a multi-residue exposure to PAH affects glutathione status, DNA (hydroxy)methylation, and RNA (hydroxy)methylation, together with DNA PAH-adducts formation. In addition, a non-monotonic response relationship was demonstrated between PAH concentration, the levels of glutathione and DNA (hydroxy)methylation levels at environmental relevant doses. This hormetic response gives a novel insight concerning the toxicity of environmental pollutants such as PAH and the biological response that may be different depending on the level of exposure.