Metabolomic Changes after Subacute Exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons: A Natural Experiment among Healthy Travelers from Los Angeles to Beijing.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Emerging epidemiological evidence has associated exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) with chronic diseases including cardiometabolic diseases and neurodegeneration. However, little information is available about their subacute effects, which may accumulate over years and contribute to chronic disease development. To fill this knowledge gap, we designed a natural experiment among 26 healthy young adults who were exposed to elevated PAHs for 10 weeks after traveling from Los Angeles to Beijing in 2014 and 2015. Serum was collected before, during, and after the trip for metabolomics analysis. We identified 50 metabolites that significantly changed 6-8 weeks after the travel to Beijing (FDR < 5%). The network analysis revealed two main independent modules. Module 1 was allocated to oxidative homeostasis-related response and module 2 to delayed enzymatic deinduction response. Remarkably, the module 1 metabolites were recovered 4-7 weeks after participants' return, while the module 2 metabolites were not. Urinary hydroxylated PAHs were significantly associated with metabolites from both modules, while PAH carboxylic acids, likely metabolites of alkylated PAHs, were only associated with antioxidation-related metabolites. These results suggested differential subacute effects of unsubstituted and alkylated PAHs. Further studies are warranted to elucidate the role of the reversibility of metabolite changes in adverse health effects of PAHs.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lu, X; Lin, Y; Qiu, X; Liu, J; Zhu, T; Araujo, JA; Zhang, J; Zhu, Y

Published Date

  • April 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 55 / 8

Start / End Page

  • 5097 - 5105

PubMed ID

  • 33683876

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1520-5851

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0013-936X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1021/acs.est.0c07627


  • eng