Global Metabolomic Profiling Reveals an Association of Metal Fume Exposure and Plasma Unsaturated Fatty Acids

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Background:Welding-associated air pollutants negatively affect the health of exposed workers; however, their molecular mechanisms in causing disease remain largely unclear. Few studies have systematically investigated the systemic toxic effects of welding fumes on humans.Objectives:To explore the effects of welding fumes on the plasma metabolome, and to identify biomarkers for risk assessment of welding fume exposure.Methods:The two-stage, self-controlled exploratory study included 11 boilermakers from a 2011 discovery panel and 8 boilermakers from a 2012 validation panel. Plasma samples were collected pre- and post-welding fume exposure and analyzed by chromatography/mass spectrometry.Results:Eicosapentaenoic or docosapentaenoic acid metabolic changes post-welding were significantly associated with particulate (PM 2.5 ) exposure (p < 0.05). The combined analysis by linear mixed-effects model showed that exposure was associated with a statistically significant decline in metabolite change of eicosapentaenoic acid [β̂(95% CI) = -0.013(-0.022∼-0.004); p = 0.005], docosapentaenoic acid n 3 [β̂(95% CI) = -0.010(-0.018∼-0.002); p = 0.017], and docosapentaenoic acid n 6 [β̂(95% CI) = -0.007(-0.013∼-0.001); p = 0.021]. Pathway analysis identified an association of the unsaturated fatty acid pathway with exposure (p Study - 2011 = 0.025; p Study - 2012 = 0.021; p Combined = 0.009). The functional network built by these fatty acids and their interactive genes contained significant enrichment of genes associated with various diseases, including neoplasms, cardiovascular diseases, and lipid metabolism disorders.Conclusions:High-dose exposure of metal welding fumes decreases unsaturated fatty acids with an exposure-response relationship. This alteration in fatty acids is a potential biological mediator and biomarker for exposure-related health disorders. © 2013 Wei et al.




Wei, Y., Wang, Z., Chang, C. yu, Fan, T., Su, L., Chen, F., & Christiani, D. C. (2013). Global Metabolomic Profiling Reveals an Association of Metal Fume Exposure and Plasma Unsaturated Fatty Acids. PLoS ONE, 8(10).

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