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Mutat Res. 2010 Apr 30;698(1-2):11-7. doi: 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2010.02.015. Epub 2010 Mar 1.

Formaldehyde-induced chromosomal aberrations and apoptosis in peripheral blood lymphocytes of personnel working in pathology departments.

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Department of Cytogenetics and Immunology, National Institute of Chemical Safety, H-1097, Nagyvárad tér 2., Budapest, Hungary.


Peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) of 37 formaldehyde-exposed women from four pathology departments in Hungary were investigated to collect data on the effects of occupational exposures to formaldehyde and to find a possible relationship between in vivo formaldehyde-induced apoptosis and genotoxic effects. The subjects were divided into two groups: 16 donors exposed to formaldehyde together with various organic solvents, and 21 subjects exposed mainly to formaldehyde. The results were compared with 37 controls (all women) without known occupational exposure. Ambient air concentrations of formaldehyde were measured in three work places, and ranged from 0.23 to 1.21mg/m(3) (mean 0.9mg/m(3)). Measures of genotoxicity included the determination of the frequencies of chromosomal aberrations (CA), sister-chromatid exchange (SCE), HPRT mutations (variant frequency, VF) and the measurement of UV-induced unscheduled DNA-repair synthesis (UDS). The percentages of premature centromere division (PCD) and of cells with a high frequency of SCE (HF/SCE) were also scored. Apoptosis and cell proliferation were determined by flow cytometry. In both formaldehyde-exposed groups, the apoptotic activity and the CA levels in PBLs were significantly higher than in controls. The CA were mostly breaks of the chromatid type. In the second group, which was mainly exposed to formaldehyde, CA were slightly lower in comparison with the group exposed to formaldehyde and solvents, which may be attributed to a different rate of elimination of damaged lymphocytes as a consequence of formaldehyde-induced apoptotic activity. In the second group, a significant decrease of VF and a non-significant increase in HF/SCE were found compared with the control and the other group. In conclusion, the results demonstrate that exposure to formaldehyde induces apoptosis and CA, indicating an excess cancer risk among subjects occupationally exposed to formaldehyde. The results also emphasize the importance of the measurement of occupational air pollutants, such as formaldehyde, in order to avoid genotoxic effects in the workers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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