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J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2013;76(4-5):311-27. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2013.757269.

Effects of occupational exposure to tobacco smoke: is there a link between environmental exposure and disease?

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Laboratório de Proteómica, Departamento de Genética Humana, Lisboa, Portugal.


In a previous study, evidence was provided that indoor secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS) air pollution remains high in Lisbon restaurants where smoking is allowed, regardless of the protective measures used. The aim of this study was to determine in these locations the levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) associated with the particulate phase of SHS (PPAH), a fraction that contains recognized carginogens, such as benzo[a]pyrene (BaP). Data showed that restaurant smoking areas might contain PPAH levels as high as 110 ng/m(3), a value significantly higher than that estimated for nonsmoking areas (30 ng/m(3)) or smoke-free restaurants (22 ng/m(3)). The effective exposure to SHS components in restaurant smoking rooms was confirmed as cotinine levels found in workers' urine. Considering that all workers exhibited normal lung function, eventual molecular changes in blood that might be associated with occupational exposure to SHS and SHS-associated PPAH were investigated by measurement of two oxidative markers, total antioxidant status (TAS) and 8-hydroxyguanosine (8-OHdG) in plasma and serum, respectively. SHS-exposed workers exhibited higher mean levels of serum 8-OHdG than nonexposed workers, regardless of smoking status. By using a proteomics approach based on 2D-DIGE-MS, it was possible to identify nine differentially expressed proteins in the plasma of SHS-exposed nonsmoker workers. Two acute-phase inflammation proteins, ceruloplasmin and inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor heavy chain 4 (ITIH4), were predominant. These two proteins presented a high number of isoforms modulated by SHS exposure with the high-molecular-weight (high-MW) isoforms decreased in abundance while low-MW isoforms were increased in abundance. Whether these expression profiles are due to (1) a specific proteolytic cleavage, (2) a change on protein stability, or (3) alterations on post-translational modification pattern of these proteins remains to be investigated. Considering that these events seem to precede the first symptoms of tobacco-related diseases, our findings might contribute to elucidation of early SHS-induced pathogenic mechanisms and constitute a useful tool for monitoring the effects of SHS on occupationally exposed individuals such as those working in the hospitality industry.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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