PloS one

Urinary amino acid alterations in 3-year-old children with neurodevelopmental effects due to perinatal dioxin exposure in Vietnam: a nested case-control study for neurobiomarker discovery.

PMID 25584822


In our previous study of 3-year-old children in a dioxin contamination hot spot in Vietnam, the high total dioxin toxic equivalent (TEQ-PCDDs/Fs)-exposed group during the perinatal period displayed lower Bayley III neurodevelopmental scores, whereas the high 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD)-exposed group displayed increased autistic traits. In autistic children, urinary amino acid profiles have revealed metabolic alterations in the amino acids that serve as neurotransmitters in the developing brain. Therefore, our present study aimed to investigate the use of alterations in urinary amino acid excretion as biomarkers of dioxin exposure-induced neurodevelopmental deficits in highly exposed 3-year-old children in Vietnam. A nested case-control study of urinary analyses was performed for 26 children who were selected from 111 3-year-old children whose perinatal dioxin exposure levels and neurodevelopmental status were examined in follow-up surveys conducted in a dioxin contaminated hot spot. We compared urinary amino acid levels between the following 4 groups: (1) a high TEQ-PCDDs/Fs and high TCDD-exposed group; (2) a high TEQ-PCDDs/Fs but low TCDD-exposed group; (3) a low TEQ-PCDDs/Fs exposed and poorly developed group; and (4) a low TEQ-PCDDs/Fs exposed and well-developed group. Urinary levels of histidine and tryptophan were significantly decreased in the high TEQ-PCDDs/Fs and high TCDD group, as well as in the high TEQ-PCDDs/Fs but low TCDD group, compared with the low TEQ-PCDDs/Fs and well-developed group. However, the ratio of histidine to glycine was significantly lower only in the high TEQ-PCDDs/Fs and high TCDD group. Furthermore, urinary histidine levels and the ratio of histidine to glycine were significantly correlated with neurodevelopmental scores, particularly for language and fine motor skills. These results indicate that urinary histidine is specifically associated with dioxin exposure-induced neurodevelopmental deficits, suggesting that urinary histidine may be a useful marker of dioxin-induced neurodevelopmental deficits and that histaminergic neurotransmission may be an important pathological contributor to dioxin-mediated neurotoxicity.