Urinary excretion of 1-hydroxypyrene as a marker for exposure to urban air levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

Franco Merlo, Åshild Andreassen, Ainsley Weston, C. F. Pan, Aage Haugen, Federico Valerio, Giorgio Reggiardo, Vincenzo Fontana, Seymour Garte, Riccardo Puntoni, Angelo Abbondandolo

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A cross-sectional study was conducted among 94 traffic police officers from the Municipality Police of Genoa, Italy, exposed to airborne pollutants and 52 referent subjects exposed to indoor air pollution levels to investigate the relationships between exposure to ambient air polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and urinary excretion of 1-hydroxypyrene (1-OH- P). The effects of smoking, lifestyle factors such as exposure to ETS, and diet, along with the role played by the cytochrome P4501A1 (CYP1A1), and glutathione S-transferase M1 and Θ metabolic susceptibility gene polymorphisms were examined. The geometric mean of benzo(a)pyrene air measurements (an index compound of PAH levels) was 70 times higher in traffic police officers (3.67 ng/m3) than in referents (0.05 ng/m3). The urinary concentration of 1-OH-P was clearly associated with cigarette smoking and, to a lesser extent, with exposure to ETS and particulate PAH pollution. No association was detected between 1-OH-P excretion and diet. Women exhibited a higher excretion level than did men, and an apparent effect of age was due to differences in cigarette smoking habits. Exposure to PAHs resulted in higher levels of 1-OH-P excretion in all groups except heavy smokers. Overall, no significant role of any metabolic polymorphism was detected. However, stratification of study subjects according to their smoking habits revealed higher levels of excretion of 1-OH-P in subjects smoking ≤15 cigarettes/day carrying the CYP1A1 polymorphism. No such effect was seen either with nonsmokers or with people smoking more than 15 cigarettes/day. These findings are suggestive of a gene-environment interaction, in which subjects with the CYP1A1 polymorphism, relative to subjects without it, have higher levels of 1-OH-P in their urine at low doses of exposure to PAHs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-155
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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