t(14;18) translocations in lymphocytes of healthy dioxin-exposed individuals from Seveso, Italy

Andrea Baccarelli, Carsten Hirt, Angela C. Pesatori, Dario Consonni, Donald G. Patterson, Pier Alberto Bertazzi, Gottfried Dölken, Maria Teresa Landi

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42 Scopus citations


Dioxin exposure has been associated with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) in epidemiological investigations. The NHL-related t(14;18) translocations can be detected at a low copy number in lymphocytes from healthy subjects. Exposure to NHL-associated carcinogens, such as dioxin or pesticides, may cause expansion of t(14;18)-positive clones. We investigated prevalence and frequency of circulating t(14;18)-positive lymphocytes in 144 healthy subjects from a population exposed to dioxin [plasma TCDD (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin) range: <1.7-475.0 parts per trillion (p.p.t.)] after the Seveso, Italy, accident of 1976. t(14;18) translocations were measured in DNA from peripheral blood lymphocytes by high-sensitivity real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. We found that the frequency, but not the prevalence, of t(14;18) translocation-positive cells increased with increasing plasma TCDD. Among t(14;18)-positive subjects (n = 50;34.7%), the mean number of t(14;18) translocations/106 lymphocytes was 4.2 [95% confidence interval (CI), 2.9-6.2] in subjects with plasma TCDD < 10.0 p.p.t., 8.1 (95% CI, 4.9-13.3) in subjects with plasma TCDD between 10.0 and 50.0 and 12.5 (95% CI, 7.4-21.1) in subjects with plasma TCDD between 50.0 and 475.0 p.p.t. (P-trend = 0.003). As expected, t(14;18) frequency was associated with cigarette smoking and was highest in subjects who smoked for ≥16 years (mean = 12.6; 95% CI, 7.4-21.3; P = 0.01). Higher t(14;18) prevalence was found among individuals with fair hair color (P = 0.01) and light eye color (P = 0.04). No significant association between t(14;18)-and age was found. Our results show that dioxin exposure is associated with increased number of circulating t(14;18) positive cells. Whether this change in t(14;18) frequency is an indicator of elevated lymphoma risk remains speculative and needs further investigation for its potential impact on public health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2001-2007
Number of pages7
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cancer Research


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