Environmental risk assessment of toxicity exposure: High-throughput expression profiling

Ji Young Hong, So Yeon Yu, Jeong Jin Ahn, Seol Young Kim, Gi Won Kim, Youngjoo Kim, Sang Wook Son, Seung Yong Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in outdoor air pollution have led to major public health problems and the identification of specific minimally invasive biomarkers for assessing environmental toxicant exposure has become increasingly important. However, research into the human health effects of inhalation exposure to VOCs remains insufficient. Using a microarray based approach, we identified and validated characteristic mRNA expression profiles in the human whole blood of workers exposed to VOCs (toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene), which were then compared with genomic level expressions in workers not exposed to the toxicants. We surveyed 141 workers working in a chemical production factory, of which 66 were not exposed to VOCs. We identified 4384 characteristic discernible exposure indicator mRNAs for toluene, 1296 for ethylbenzene, and 5821 for xylene. Using these, we were able to discern those subjects from the control group to a higher accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity than when using urinary biomarkers. The results showed that altered levels of mRNA can be a reliable, novel, and minimally invasive biological indicator of occupational exposure to VOCs. Future research directions should consider the adverse effects of exposure to VOCs on epigenetic regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-80
Number of pages7
JournalBiochip Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, The Korean BioChip Society and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Environmental Risk Assessment
  • Ethylbenzene
  • Gene expression profiling
  • Microarray
  • Toluene
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Xylene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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