Organic honey supplementation reverses pesticide-induced genotoxicity by modulating DNA damage response

Renata Alleva, Nicola Manzella, Simona Gaetani, Veronica Ciarapica, Massimo Bracci, Maria Fiorenza Caboni, Federica Pasini, Federica Monaco, Monica Amati, Battista Borghi, Marco Tomasetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scope: Glyphosate (GLY) and organophosphorus insecticides such as chlorpyrifos (CPF) may cause DNA damage and cancer in exposed individuals through mitochondrial dysfunction. Polyphenols ubiquitously present in fruits and vegetables, have been viewed as antioxidant molecules, but also influence mitochondrial homeostasis. Here, honey containing polyphenol compounds was evaluated for its potential protective effect on pesticide-induced genotoxicity. Methods and results: Honey extracts from four floral organic sources were evaluated for their polyphenol content, antioxidant activity, and potential protective effects on pesticide-related mitochondrial destabilization, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species formation, and DNA damage response in human bronchial epithelial and neuronal cells. The protective effect of honey was, then evaluated in a residential population chronically exposed to pesticides. The four honey types showed a different polyphenol profile associated with a different antioxidant power. The pesticide-induced mitochondrial dysfunction parallels ROS formation from mitochondria (mtROS) and consequent DNA damage. Honey extracts efficiently inhibited pesticide-induced mtROS formation, and reduced DNA damage by upregulation of DNA repair through NFR2. Honey supplementation enhanced DNA repair activity in a residential population chronically exposed to pesticides, which resulted in a marked reduction of pesticide-induced DNA lesions. Conclusion: These results provide new insight regarding the effect of honey containing polyphenols on pesticide-induced DNA damage response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2243-2255
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Nutrition and Food Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2016


  • DNA damage response
  • Mitochondria
  • Organic honey
  • Pesticides
  • Polyphenols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science


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