Human & experimental toxicology

Oxidative stress and air pollution exposure during pregnancy: A molecular assessment.

PMID 25403174


Chronic air pollution exposure during pregnancy can cause oxidative stress leading to adverse birth outcomes. The aim of this study was to assess and compare oxidative stress response in peripheral lymphocytes isolated from pregnant women from a highly industrialized locale (south Durban (SD); n = 50) and a control with lower air pollutant levels (north Durban (ND); n = 50). Oxidative stress response was measured by quantifying malondialdehyde (MDA) levels and a SuperArray gene panel. Mitochondrial function (adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels and mitochondrial depolarization), DNA integrity (comet assay and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) viability) and DNA repair (OGG1) were assessed. Antioxidant response was assessed by quantification of glutathione (GSH) and SOD2, nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2) protein and messenger RNA (mRNA) expression. Levels of MDA (p = 0.9), mitochondrial depolarization (p = 0.88), ATP (1.89-fold), SOD2 (1.23-fold) and UCP2 (1.58-fold) gene expression were elevated in the SD group with significantly higher UCP2 protein levels (p = 0.05) and longer comet tail length (p = 0.0004). The expression of Nrf2 protein (p = 0.03) and mRNA levels (-1.37-fold), GSH concentration (p < 0.0001), mtDNA amplification (-2.04-fold) and OGG1 mRNA (-2.78-fold) activity were decreased in the SD group. Of the 84 oxidative stress-related genes evaluated, 26 were differentially regulated. Pregnant women exposed to higher air pollutant levels showed increased markers for oxidative stress and compromised DNA integrity and repair.