There are concerns about genetic risks associated with long-term exposure to pesticides as these compounds may damage DNA, resulting in mutations that eventually lead to cancer, neurological, and reproductive adverse health effects. This study assessed DNA damage in intensive agricultural workers exposed to pesticides by determining the levels of N7-methyldeoxyguanosine (N7-MedG), an adduct known to be a robust biomarker of recent exposure to chemical methylating agents. A cohort of 39 plastic greenhouse workers was assessed for changes in lymphocyte DNA N7-MedG levels between low level and high level exposures during the course of a spraying season. The contributions of genetic polymorphisms of the pesticide-metabolizing enzymes paraoxonase-1 (PON1) and the glutathione S-transferases, GSTM1 and GSTT1, on N7-MedG levels and other potential confounders were also assessed. N7-MedG increased in the period of high pesticide exposure as compared to the low exposure period (0.23 and 0.18 μmol N7-MedG/mol dG for the unadjusted and adjusted linear mixed models, P=0.02 and 0.08, respectively). Significant decreased levels of erythrocyte acetylcholinesterase and plasma cholinesterase were observed in the high versus low exposure period in both the unadjusted (2.85 U/g hemoglobin and 213.13 U/L, respectively) and adjusted linear mixed models (2.99 U/g hemoglobin and 230.77 U/L, respectively), indicating pesticide intake. In intensive agriculture workers, higher pesticide exposure increased DNA alkylation levels, further demonstrating the genotoxicity of pesticides in man. In addition, pesticide-exposed individuals with inherited susceptible metabolic genotypes (particularly, null genotype for GSTM1 and the PON1 192R allele) appear to have an increased risk of genotoxic DNA damage.
Bibliographical note© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- DNA adducts
- Occupational health