Epigenetic effects of shiftwork on blood DNA methylation

Valentina Bollati, Andrea Baccarelli, Samantha Sartori, Letizia Tarantini, Valeria Motta, Federica Rota, Giovanni Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the present study, the authors investigated the effects of shiftwork exposure on DNA methylation using peripheral blood DNA from subjects working in two chemical plants in Northern Italy. The investigation was designed to evaluate (a) DNA methylation changes in Alu and long interspersed nuclear element-1 (LINE-1) repetitive elements as a surrogate of global methylation and (b) promoter methylation of glucocorticoid receptor (GCR), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ). One hundred and fifty white male workers (mean±SD: 41.0±9 yrs of age) were examined: 100 3×8 rotating shiftworkers (40.4±8.7 yrs of age) and 50 day workers (42.2±9.4 yrs of age). The authors used bisulfite-pyrosequencing to estimate repetitive elements and gene-specific methylation. Multiple regression analysis, adjusted for age, body mass index (BMI), and job seniority, did not show any significant association between the five DNA methylation markers and shiftwork. However, job seniority, in all subjects, was significantly associated with Alu (β-0.019, p.033) and IFN-γ (β-0.224, p15 yrs) was associated with significantly lower Alu (β-0.86, p.006) and IFN-γ methylation (β-6.50, p.007) after adjustment for age, BMI, and morningnesseveningness. In addition, GCR significantly increased with length of shiftwork (β3.33, p.05). The data showed alterations in blood DNA methylation in a group of shiftworkers, including changes in Alu repetitive elements methylation and gene-specific methylation of IFN-γ and TNF-α promoters. Further studies are required to determine the role of such alterations in mediating the effects of shiftwork on human health. copyright

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1093-1104
Number of pages12
JournalChronobiology International
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • Cancer
  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenetic changes
  • Night work
  • Shiftwork

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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