Decreased mitochondrial DNA content in association with exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in house dust during wintertime : from a population enquiry to cell culture
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
Engineering sciences. Technology
, p. 1-8
University of Antwerp
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are widespread environmental pollutants that are formed in combustion processes. At the cellular level, exposure to PAHs causes oxidative stress and/or some of it congeners bind to DNA, which may interact with mitochondrial function. However, the influence of these pollutants on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) content remains largely unknown. We determined whether indoor exposure to PAHs is associated with mitochondrial damage as represented by blood mtDNA content. Blood mtDNA content (ratio mitochondrial/nuclear DNA copy number) was determined by real-time qPCR in 46 persons, both in winter and summer. Indoor PAH exposure was estimated by measuring PAHs in sedimented house dust, including 6 volatile PAHs and 8 non-volatile PAHs. Biomarkers of oxidative stress at the level of DNA and lipid peroxidation were measured. In addition to the epidemiologic enquiry, we exposed human TK6 cells during 24 h at various concentrations (range: 0 to 500 mu M) of benzo(a) pyrene and determined mtDNA content. Mean blood mtDNA content averaged (+/- SD) 0.95 +/- 0.185. The median PAH content amounted 554.1 ng/g dust (25th-75th percentile: 390.7-767.3) and 1385 ng/g dust (25th-75th percentile: 1000-1980) in winter for volatile and non-volatile PAHs respectively. Independent for gender, age, BMI and the consumption of grilled meat or fish, blood mtDNA content decreased by 9.85% (95% CI: -15.16 to -4.2; p = 0.002) for each doubling of non-volatile PAH content in the house dust in winter. The corresponding estimate for volatile PAHs was -7.3% (95% CI: -13.71 to -0.42; p = 0.04). Measurements of oxidative stress were not correlated with PAH exposure. During summer months no association was found between mtDNA content and PAH concentration. The ability of benzo(a)pyrene (range 0 mu M to 500 mu M) to lower mtDNA content was confirmed in vitro in human TK6 cells. Based on these findings, mtDNA content can be a target of PAH toxicity in humans.