Long-term Persistent Organic Pollutants Exposure Induced Telomere Dysfunction and Senescence-Associated Secretary Phenotype

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2018 Jul 9;73(8):1027-1035. doi: 10.1093/gerona/gly002.


Environmentally persistent organic pollutant (POP) is the general term for refractory organic compounds that show long-range atmospheric transport, environmental persistence, and bioaccumulation. It has been reported that the accumulation of POPs could lead to cellular DNA damage and adverse effects of on metabolic health. To better understand the mechanism of the health risks associated with POPs, we conducted an evidence-based cohort investigation (n = 5,955) at the Jinghai e-waste disposal center in China from 2009 to 2016, where people endure serious POP exposure. And high levels of aging-related diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and reproductive disorders were identified associated with the POP exposure. In the subsequent molecular level study, an increased telomere dysfunction including telomere multiple telomere signals, telomere signal-free ends, telomere shortening and activation of alternative lengthening of telomeres were observed, which might result from the hypomethylated DNA modification induced telomeric repeat-containing RNA overexpression. Moreover, dysfunctional telomere-leaded senescence-associated secretory phenotype was confirmed, as the proinflammatory cytokines and immunosenescence hallmarks including interleukin-6, P16INK4a, and P14ARF were stimulated. Thus, we proposed that the dysfunctional telomere and elevated systemic chronic inflammation contribute to the aging-associated diseases, which were highly developed among the POP exposure individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging / drug effects*
  • Blotting, Southern
  • DNA Methylation / drug effects
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Telomere / drug effects*
  • Telomere Shortening / drug effects


  • Environmental Pollutants