DNA methylation changes in Mexican children exposed to arsenic from two historic mining areas in San Luis potosí

Jorge Alejandro Alegría-Torres, Leticia Carrizales-Yánez, Fernando Díaz-Barriga, Fernando Rosso-Camacho, Valeria Motta, Letizia Tarantini, Valentina Bollati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Arsenic is a carcinogen and epimutagen that threatens the health of exposed populations worldwide. In this study, we examined the methylation status of Alu and long interspersed nucleotide elements (LINE-1) and their association with levels of urinary arsenic in 84 Mexican children between 6 and 12 years old from two historic mining areas in the State of San Luis Potosí, Mexico. Urinary arsenic levels were determined by atomic absorption spectrophotometry and DNA methylation analysis was performed in peripheral blood leukocytes by bisulfite-pyrosequencing. The geometric mean of urinary arsenic was 26.44 µg/g Cr (range 1.93–139.35). No significant differences in urinary arsenic or methylation patterns due to gender were observed. A positive correlation was found between urinary arsenic and the mean percentage of methylated cytosines in Alu sequences (Spearman correlation coefficient r = 0.532, P < 0.001), and a trend of LINE-1 hypomethylation was also observed (Spearman correlation coefficient r = −0.232, P = 0.038) after adjustment for sex and age. A linear regression model showed an association with log-normalized urinary arsenic for Alu (β = 1.05, 95% CI: 0.67; 1.43, P < 0.001) and LINE-1 (β = −0.703, 95% CI: −1.36; −0.38, P = 0.038). Despite the low-level arsenic exposure, a subtle epigenetic imbalance measured as DNA methylation was detected in the leukocytes of Mexican children living in two historic mining areas. Environ. Mol. Mutagen. 57:717–723, 2016.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-723
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental and Molecular Mutagenesis
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2016


  • arsenic
  • children
  • DNA methylation
  • epigenetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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