Toxicology and industrial health

Lead induced oxidative DNA damage in battery-recycling child workers from Bangladesh.

PMID 29519200


Lead exposure can damage cells directly by effecting DNA or indirectly by modifying proteins and enzymes. In Bangladesh, many working children are exposed to a very high level of lead during their early life due to their involvement with lead-oriented professions. This imposes a severe threat to the growth and development of the children. Therefore to study the effect of lead, we enrolled 60 age-matched male children, from an area of old Dhaka city, where battery-recycling shops are located, depending on their blood lead concentration. If the children had a plasma lead concentration above the WHO recommended threshold level of 10 µg/dl, we grouped them as test subjects and others as control subjects to determine the effect of lead on different biochemical parameters of the body. Compared to the controls, acculumlation of the lipid peroxidation product, malondialdehyde, increased significantly in test subjects ( p < 0.01). Lead exposure also increased the protein carbonyl content ( p < 0.05) and significantly decreased the plasma glutathione levels of test subjects compared to the controls ( p < 0.05). While comparing the lead-exposed group against controls, it was found that the percentage of damaged DNA, as measured using the Comet assay, significantly increased in tail ( p < 0.01) and decreased in head regions. All of these results suggest that high-plasma lead content may induce an oxidative stress to the study population, which may lead to DNA damage.

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