Epigenetic markers of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in Mexican brickmakers: A pilot study

Jorge Alejandro Alegría-Torres, Francesco Barretta, Lilia E. Batres-Esquivel, Leticia Carrizales-Yáñez, Iván N. Pérez-Maldonado, Andrea Baccarelli, Pier Alberto Bertazzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A pilot cross-sectional study was carried out in a group of 39 male brick manufacturers in San Luis Potosi, Mexico to identify epigenetic biomarkers of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). A questionnaire was used to compile the smoking and drinking habits, clinical history, working time, and socioeconomic characteristics of the participants. 1-Hydroxypyrene (1-OHP) levels were measured from urine samples using high-performance liquid chromatography, and genomic DNA was isolated from blood samples for methylation analysis using pyrosequencing. The mean 1-OHP level was 0.18μgg-1 creatinine (range 0.023-1.11), which was below the expected occupational exposure level. After adjusting for potential confounders, the 1-OHP urine concentration was negatively associated with DNA methylation of the interleukin 12 (β=-1.57; 95% CI: -2.9 to -0.23; p=0.02) and p53 gene promoters (β=-2.7; 95% CI: -5.46-0.06; p=0.055). Suggestive negative associations were also found for the TNF-α gene (β=-3.9; 95% CI:-8.28-0.48; p=0.08) and Alu sequences (β=-0.55; 95% CI:-1.25-0.16; p=0.12). Although the individual exposures to PAHs as estimated by urinary 1-OHP concentrations were low, changes in specific and global DNA methylation were observed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-480
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • Brickmakers
  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenetic markers
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)


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