A recent study by researchers at the Florida International University Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work describes an optimized “adductomic” approach to the integrated analysis of the totality of cellular DNA damage. Published in the Archive of Toxicology, the study extends the adductomic analysis of cellular DNA to urine. This represents a novel procedure for examining the different varieties of DNA damage formed in the body following environmental exposures.
An emerging area in environmental health, adductomics has the potential to measure the totality of DNA adducts in the genome, which allows researchers to obtain information about exposure and effects. DNA adducts are exceedingly important as they are believed to be involved in producing many different diseases, such as cancer and neurodegeneration.
The study was performed by Dr. Marcus S. Cooke, a professor in Stempel College’s department of environmental health sciences, and two visiting research fellows in the department, Dr. Mu-Rong Chao and Dr. Chiung-Wen Hu, from Chung Shan Medical University (Taiwan). The research reports for the first time urinary adductomics as a means to assess individual exposures to mixtures of environmental agents. Dr. Cooke conceived the idea of applying adductomics to urine, which has given researchers the opportunity to perform non-invasive studies and detect what people have been exposed to, as a result of the adducts formed.
“The research represents a potentially new paradigm for assessing environmental exposures,” said Dr. Cooke. “Because DNA adductomics needs quite a lot of tissue e.g. blood, to get sufficient sensitivity, it is difficult to apply that approach to human populations, thus limiting the populations which can be studied. Performing urinary DNA adductomics removes this barrier and also allows for retrospective analysis of previously collected samples.”
Performing urinary DNA adductomics will give researchers a new way to study a person’s exposome, a widely accepted concept that describes the relationships between lifetime exposure to chemicals from contaminants and health risks. These contaminants include exposure to both chemicals entering the body such as exhaust emissions, tobacco smoke, sunlight, constituents of food or pharmaceutical agents and those produced internally by cellular processes.
The research has the capability to i) generate information that could lead researchers to better understand which adducts are important in particular cancers; ii) highlight which DNA damaging agents are present in potentially hazardous mixtures that humans are exposed to on a daily basis; and iii) identify vulnerable populations at risk to specific agents during certain periods of their lives. These are all major inquiries that researchers have been unable to address, until now. The approach will also have impact for more mechanistic studies, allowing us to better understand which DNA repair pathways are responsible for removing which DNA adducts.