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Frontiers of Medicine

ISSN 2095-0217

ISSN 2095-0225(Online)

CN 11-5983/R

Postal Subscription Code 80-967

2018 Impact Factor: 1.847

Front. Med.    2015, Vol. 9 Issue (3) : 261-274
Environmental pollution and DNA methylation: carcinogenesis, clinical significance, and practical applications
Yi Cao()
Laboratory of Molecular and Experimental Pathology, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650223, China
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Environmental pollution is one of the main causes of human cancer. Exposures to environmental carcinogens result in genetic and epigenetic alterations which induce cell transformation. Epigenetic changes caused by environmental pollution play important roles in the development and progression of environmental pollution-related cancers. Studies on DNA methylation are among the earliest and most conducted epigenetic research linked to cancer. In this review, the roles of DNA methylation in carcinogenesis and their significance in clinical medicine were summarized, and the effects of environmental pollutants, particularly air pollutants, on DNA methylation were introduced. Furthermore, prospective applications of DNA methylation to environmental pollution detection and cancer prevention were discussed.

Keywords environmental pollution      DNA methylation      cancer      biomarker      diagnosis      therapy      prevention     
Just Accepted Date: 10 July 2015   Online First Date: 20 August 2015    Issue Date: 26 August 2015
 Cite this article:   
Yi Cao. Environmental pollution and DNA methylation: carcinogenesis, clinical significance, and practical applications[J]. Front. Med., 2015, 9(3): 261-274.
Agent Group* Main sources Main objects of pollution or main modes of entry
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) 1/2A/2B/3 Coal and oil combustion products Air, soil
Nitro-polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons 3 Coal and oil combustion products Air, soil
Coal tar 1 Coal and oil combustion products Air, soil
Coke productions 1 Coal coking Air, water, soil
Carbon black 2B Coal and oil combustion products Air
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) 3 Coal and oil combustion products Air
PM2.5 1 Multi-source, e.g., coal and oil combustion products, etc. Air
Arsenic and its compounds 1 Coal and oil combustion products, mining, smelting, etc. Air, water, soil
Formaldehyde 1 Industry, medicine, agriculture, etc. Air, water, food
Asbestos 1 Construction industry, building materials Inhalation, contact
Bitumen 2B/3 Petrochemical industry, construction industry, etc. Inhalation, contact
Radon and its decay products 1 Mining, smelting Inhalation, radioactive contamination
Benzene 1 Chemical industry Air, water
Styrene 2B Chemical industry Air, water, soil
Trichloroethylene 1 Pharmaceutical and chemical industry Air, water
1,3-butadiene 1 Chemical industry Inhalation, contact
4,4'-diaminobiphenyl ether 2B Synthetic dyes Inhalation, contact
Bis-chloromethyl 1 Chemical industry Inhalation
Carbon tetrachloride 2B Chemical industry Inhalation
Epoxyethane 1 Detergents, fungicides, etc. Inhalation
Dimethylsulfate 2A Synthetic dyes, chemical industry Inhalation
Polychlorophends and their sodium salts 2B Chemical industry Inhalation, contact, ingestion
Dimethylcarbamyl chloride 2A Pharmaceutical and pesticide industry Inhalation, contact, ingestion
Auramine 2B/1 Dyes Inhalation, contact, ingestion
Epichlorohydrin 2A Chemical industry Inhalation, contact, ingestion
Polychloroprene 3 Chemical industry Inhalation, contact
Amitrole 3 Herbicide Water, soil, air
Hexachlorocyclohexane 2B Insecticide Water, soil, air
Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) 2B Insecticide Water, soil, air
Heptachlor 2B Insecticide Water, soil, air
Chlordane 2B Insecticide Water, soil, air
Hematite (Fe2O3) 3 Mining, smelting Air, soil
Lead compounds 2B/3 Mining, smelting (lead dust), industry, etc. Air, water, soil
Titanium dioxide 2B Mining, smelting Inhalation
Chromium (VI) compounds 1 Smelting (chromium residue), metal processing, electroplating, tanning, etc. Water, soil, air
Cadmium and its compounds 1 Mining, smelting, metal processing, dyes, chemical industry, etc. Water, soil
Nickel compounds 1/2B Mining, smelting, metal processing Air, water, soil
Beryllium and its compounds 1 Mining, smelting Air, water, soil
Tab.1  Some pollutants related to human carcinogenesis
Agent Alterations in DNA methylation References
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) Global DNA hypomethylation and gene-specific hyper- and hypomethylation [47,54-63,80]
Carbon black Gene-specific hypermethylation [68]
PM2.5, PM10 Global DNA hypomethylation and gene-specific hyper- and hypomethylation [65-76]
Arsenic Global DNA hypomethylation and gene-specific hyper- and hypomethylation [77-79]
Formaldehyde Global DNA hypomethylation [80,81]
Radon Gene-specific hypermethylation [82-84]
Asbestos Gene-specific hyper- and hypomethylation [85-87]
Benzene Global DNA hypomethylation and gene-specific hyper- and hypomethylation [80, 88-90]
Styrene Global DNA hypomethylation [80]
Trichloroethylene Global DNA hypomethylation [80]
1,3-Butadiene Global DNA hypomethylation and gene-specific hypermethylation [91-94]
Carbon tetrachloride Global DNA hypomethylation [80]
Dimethylsulfate DNA hypermethylation [95]
Epichlorohydrin Global DNA hypomethylation [80]
Hexachlorocyclohexane Global DNA hypomethylation [96]
Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) Global DNA hypomethylation and gene-specific hyper- and hypomethylation [97,98]
Chlordane Global DNA hypomethylation [96]
Lead Global DNA hypomethylation and gene-specific hyper- and hypomethylation [99?102]
Chromium Global DNA hypomethylation and gene-specific hyper- and hypomethylation [103?106]
Cadmium Global DNA hyper- and hypomethylationand gene-specific hypermethylation [107-119]
Nickel Gene-specific hypermethylation [120-125]
Beryllium Gene-specific hypermethylation [68]
Tab.2  Some environmental pollutants and DNA methylation in previous studies
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