A new and important field in toxicology and risk assessment is epigenetics which deals with the regulation of genes and the environmental impact. Very little is so far known about DEP and epigenetic mechanisms. In this project we will study epigenetic changes associated with DE, with a particular emphasis on DEP.
The study will have a three-fold approach: (1) Exposure assessment and epigenetic effect biomarker establishment in tunnel finishing workers, an occupational group presumed to experience high exposure levels. (2) Establishment of epigenetic biomarkers of DEP in human bronchial epithelial cell lines. This will comprise both short term effects and in vitro transformation (mimicking early steps of carcinogenesis) after long term exposure to DEP or DEP constituents. (3) Establishment of epigenetic biomarkers of DEP exposure in rats.
Epigenetic changes associated with DEP exposure will be studied by array and single factor analysis of DNA methylation and micro-RNA (miRNA). These results will be compared to DEP induced DNA damage and cell biology markers. In conclusion, this project will create important new knowledge on occupational exposure to DE/DEP, and on DEP epigenetics in humans, cell culture, and animals. The results may also lay the ground for establishment of effect biomarkers of DEP exposure.