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Low-Level Environmental Cadmium Exposure Is Associated with DNA Hypomethylation in Argentinean Women

Authors
Journal
Environmental Health Perspectives
0091-6765
Publisher
Environmental Health Perspectives
Publication Date
Volume
120
Issue
6
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1104600
Keywords
  • Research
Disciplines
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Medicine

Abstract

Background: Cadmium, a common food pollutant, alters DNA methylation in vitro. Epigenetic effects might therefore partly explain cadmium’s toxicity, including its carcinogenicity; however, human data on epigenetic effects are lacking. Objective: We evaluated the effects of dietary cadmium exposure on DNA methylation, considering other environmental exposures, genetic predisposition, and gene expression. Methods: Concentrations of cadmium, arsenic, selenium, and zinc in blood and urine of nonsmoking women (n = 202) from the northern Argentinean Andes were measured by inductively coupled mass spectrometry. Methylation in CpG islands of LINE-1 (long interspersed nuclear element-1; a proxy for global DNA methylation) and promoter regions of p16 [cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A (CDKN2A)] and MLH1 (mutL homolog 1) in peripheral blood were measured by bisulfite polymerase chain reaction pyrosequencing. Genotyping (n = 172) for the DNA (cytosine-5-)-methyltransferase 1 gene (DNMT1 rs10854076 and rs2228611) and DNA (cytosine-5-)-methyltransferase 3 beta gene (DNMT3B rs2424913 and rs2424932) was performed with Sequenom iPLEX GOLD SNP genotyping; and gene expression (n = 90), with DirectHyb HumanHT-12 (version 3.0). Results: Cadmium exposure was low: median concentrations in blood and urine were 0.36 and 0.23 µg/L, respectively. Urinary cadmium (natural log transformed) was inversely associated with LINE-1 methylation (β = –0.50, p = 0.0070; β = –0.44, p = 0.026, adjusted for age and coca chewing) but not with p16 or MLH1 methylation. Both DNMT1 rs10854076 and DNMT1 rs2228611 polymorphisms modified associations between urinary cadmium and LINE-1 (p-values for interaction in adjusted models were 0.045 and 0.064, respectively). The rare genotypes demonstrated stronger hypomethylation with increasing urinary cadmium concentrations. Cadmium was inversely associated with DNMT3B (rS = –0.28, p = 0.0086) but not with DNMT1 expression (rS = –0.075, p = 0.48). Conclusion: Environmental cadmium exposure was associated with DNA hypomethylation in peripheral blood, and DNMT1 genotypes modified this association. The role of epigenetic modifications in cadmium-associated diseases needs clarification.

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