The aim of this study was to explore the impact of three different standard reference particulate matter (ERM-CZ100, SRM-1649, and SRM-2975) on epigenetic DNA modifications including cytosine methylation, cytosine hydroxymethylation, and adenine methylation. For the determination of low levels of adenine methylation, we developed and applied a novel DNA nucleobase chemical derivatization and combined it with liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. The developed method was applied for the analysis of epigenetic modifications in monocytic THP-1 cells exposed to the three different reference particulate matter for 24 h and 48 h. The mass fraction of epigenetic active elements As, Cd, and Cr was analyzed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The exposure to fine dust ERM-CZ100 and urban dust SRM-1649 decreased cytosine methylation after 24 h exposure, whereas all 3 p.m. increased cytosine hydoxymethylation following 24 h exposure, and the epigenetic effects induced by SRM-1649 and diesel SRM-2975 were persistent up to 48 h exposure. The road tunnel dust ERM-CZ100 significantly increased adenine methylation following the shorter exposure time. Two-dimensional scatters analysis between different epigenetic DNA modifications were used to depict a significantly negative correlation between cytosine methylation and cytosine hydroxymethylation supporting their possible functional relationship. Metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons differently shapes epigenetic DNA modifications.


Graphical Abstract

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