Skip Navigation LinksHome > July 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 7 > Hypomethylation of Dual Specificity Phosphatase 22 Promoter...
Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31825296bc
Original Articles

Hypomethylation of Dual Specificity Phosphatase 22 Promoter Correlates With Duration of Service in Firefighters and Is Inducible by Low-Dose Benzo[a]Pyrene

Ouyang, Bin MD; Baxter, C. Stuart PhD; Lam, Hung-Ming PhD; Yeramaneni, Samrat BS; Levin, Linda PhD; Haynes, Erin PhD; Ho, Shuk-mei PhD

Supplemental Author Material
Continued Medical Education
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Objective: Firefighters (FFs) are chronically exposed to smoke and products of incomplete combustion, which frequently contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). This study examined the possibility of an association between PAH-induced epigenetic alterations and occupational firefighting exposure.

Methods: Promoter methylation was analyzed in four genes in blood DNA from 18 FFs and 20 non-FFs (controls). Jurkat and human normal prostate epithelial cells were treated with benzo[a]pyrene to ascertain the epigenetic effects of this type of agent.

Results: Firefighters had a higher prevalence of dual specificity phosphatase 22-promoter hypomethylation in blood DNA (P = 0.03) and the extent of hypomethylation correlated with duration of firefighting service (P = 0.04) but not with age. Benzo[a]pyrene reduced promoter methylation and increased gene expression of the same gene in Jurkat and normal prostate epithelial cells.

Conclusions: Cumulative occupational exposure to combustion-derived PAHs during firefighting can cause epigenetic changes in promoters of specific genes.

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine


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