World Trade Center Exposure, DNA Methylation Changes, and Cancer: A Review of Current Evidence

Stephanie Tuminello, Emelie Nguyen, Nedim Durmus, Ramazan Alptekin, Muhammed Yilmaz, Maria Cecilia Crisanti, Matija Snuderl, Yu Chen, Yongzhao Shao, Joan Reibman, Emanuela Taioli, Alan A. Arslan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Known carcinogens in the dust and fumes from the destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC) towers on 9 November 2001 included metals, asbestos, and organic pollutants, which have been shown to modify epigenetic status. Epigenome-wide association analyses (EWAS) using uniform (Illumina) methodology have identified novel epigenetic profiles of WTC exposure. Methods: We reviewed all published data, comparing differentially methylated gene profiles identified in the prior EWAS studies of WTC exposure. This included DNA methylation changes in blood-derived DNA from cases of cancer-free “Survivors” and those with breast cancer, as well as tissue-derived DNA from “Responders” with prostate cancer. Emerging molecular pathways related to the observed DNA methylation changes in WTC-exposed groups were explored and summarized. Results: WTC dust exposure appears to be associated with DNA methylation changes across the genome. Notably, WTC dust exposure appears to be associated with increased global DNA methylation; direct dysregulation of cancer genes and pathways, including inflammation and immune system dysregulation; and endocrine system disruption, as well as disruption of cholesterol homeostasis and lipid metabolism. Conclusion: WTC dust exposure appears to be associated with biologically meaningful DNA methylation changes, with implications for carcinogenesis and development of other chronic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31
JournalEpigenomes
Volume7
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • DNA methylation
  • World Trade Center
  • breast cancer
  • epigenetics
  • prostate cancer

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