Heavy metals in wild house mice from coal-mining areas of Colombia and expression of genes related to oxidative stress, DNA damage and exposure to metals

Mutat Res Genet Toxicol Environ Mutagen. 2014 Mar 1;762:24-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2013.12.005. Epub 2014 Feb 11.


Coal mining is a source of pollutants that impact on environmental and human health. This study examined the metal content and the transcriptional status of gene markers associated with oxidative stress, metal transport and DNA damage in livers of feral mice collected near coal-mining operations, in comparison with mice obtained from a reference site. Mus musculus specimens were caught from La Loma and La Jagua, two coal-mining sites in the north of Colombia, as well as from Valledupar (Cesar Department), a city located 100km north of the mines. Concentrations in liver tissue of Hg, Zn, Pb, Cd, Cu and As were determined by differential stripping voltammetry, and real-time PCR was used to measure gene expression. Compared with the reference group (Valledupar), hepatic concentrations of Cd, Cu and Zn were significantly higher in animals living near mining areas. In exposed animals, the mRNA expression of NQ01, MT1, SOD1, MT2, and DDIT3 was 4.2-, 7.3-, 2.5-, 4.6- and 3.4-fold greater in coal mining sites, respectively, than in animals from the reference site (p<0.05). These results suggest that activities related to coal mining may generate pollutants that could affect the biota, inducing the transcription of biochemical markers related to oxidative stress, metal exposure, and DNA damage. These changes may be in part linked to metal toxicity, and could have implications for the development of chronic disease. Therefore, it is essential to implement preventive measures to minimize the effects of coal mining on its nearby environment, in order to protect human health.

Keywords: Differential stripping voltammetry; Environmental pollution; Gene expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coal Mining*
  • Colombia
  • DNA Damage*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants / pharmacokinetics
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis
  • Metals, Heavy / pharmacokinetics
  • Metals, Heavy / toxicity*
  • Mice
  • Oxidative Stress* / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress* / genetics


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Metals, Heavy