We examined the relationship between PAH-DNA adduct levels in the placental tissue, measured by a highly sensitive (32)P-postlabeling assay, and the risk of fetal neural tube defects (NTDs). We further explored the interaction between PAH-DNA adducts and placental PAHs with respect to NTD risk. Placental tissues from 80 NTD-affected pregnancies and 50 uncomplicated normal pregnancies were included in this case-control study. Levels of PAH-DNA adducts were lower in the NTD group (8.12 per 10(8) nucleotides) compared to controls (9.92 per 10(8) nucleotides). PAH-DNA adduct concentrations below the median was associated with a 3-fold increased NTD risk. Women with a low PAH-DNA adduct level in concert with a high placental PAH level resulted in a 10-fold elevated risk of having an NTD-complicated pregnancy. A low level of placental PAH-DNA adducts was associated with an increased risk of NTDs; this risk increased dramatically when a low adduct level was coupled with a high placental PAH concentration.
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