PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Assessment of particulate exposure and surface characteristics in association with urinary levels of 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine, considered as marker of oxidative stress
Rossi Michel J.
Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
Institut universitaire romand de Santé au Travail, Rue du Bugnon 21, 1011 Lausanne.
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Epidemiological studies have demonstrated that exposure to fine particles is associated to adverse health effects, including cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. However, mechanisms by which particles induce health effects remain unclear. According to one of the most investigated hypotheses, particles cause adverse effects through the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are very hazardous compounds able to attack directly biological structures, including the DNA strand or the lipid bilayer of the cells. If the defense mechanisms, constituted of antioxidants, are not able to counter ROS, then these compounds will cause in the body a range of oxidation reactions called "oxidative stress". The aim of the present research project was to better understand mechanisms by which exposure to fine particles induces oxidative stress. The first point of this project was to check whether exposure to high levels of fine particles is directly linked to oxidative stress, and whether this oxidative stress is accompanied by the activation of the defense mechanisms (antioxidants). The second point was to study the role played by the particle surface characteristics in the oxidative stress process. For that purpose, a study was conducted in bus depots with the participation of 40 mechanics. First, occupational exposure to particles (PM4) and to other pollutants (NOx, O3) was measured over a two-day period. Then, urine samples of mechanics were collected in order to measure levels of 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine (8OHdG) and antioxidants. 8OHdG is a molecule formed by the oxidation of DNA and allowing to assess the oxidative stress status of the mechanics. Finally, particles were collected on filters, and functional groups located on the particle surface were analyzed in the laboratory using a Knudsen flow reactor. This technique allows not only to quantify functional groups on the particle surface, but also to measure the reaction kinetics. Results obtained during the field campaign in bus depots showed that mechanics were exposed to rather low levels of PM4 (20-85 μg/m3) and of pollutants (NOx: 100-1000 ppb; O3: <15 ppb). However, despite this low exposure, urinary levels of the oxidative stress biomarker (8OHdG) increased significantly for non-smoking workers over a two-day period of shift. This oxidative stress was accompanied by an increase of antioxidants, indicating the activation of defense mechanisms. On the other hand, the analysis of functional groups on the particle surface showed important differences, depending on the workplace, the date and the activities of workers. The particle surface contained simultaneously antagonistic functional groups which did not undergo internal reactions (such as acids and bases), and was usually characterized by a high density of carbonyl functions and a low density of acidic sites. Reaction kinetics measured using the Knudsen flow reactor pointed out fast reactions of oxidizable groups and slow reactions of acidic sites. Several exposure parameters were significantly correlated with the increase of the oxidative stress status: the presence of acidic sites, carbonyl functions and oxidizable groups on the particle surface; reaction kinetics of functional groups on the particle surface; particulate iron and copper concentrations; and NOx concentration.
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