Occupational Exposure to Pesticides in Tobacco Fields: The Integrated Evaluation of Nutritional Intake and Susceptibility on Genomic and Epigenetic Instability

Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2018 Jun 3:2018:7017423. doi: 10.1155/2018/7017423. eCollection 2018.


Pesticides used at tobacco fields are associated with genomic instability, which is proposed to be sensitive to nutritional intake and may also induce epigenetic changes. We evaluated the effect of dietary intake and genetic susceptibility polymorphisms in MTHFR (rs1801133) and TERT (rs2736100) genes on genomic and epigenetic instability in tobacco farmers. Farmers, when compared to a nonexposed group, showed increased levels of different parameters of DNA damage (micronuclei, nucleoplasmic bridges, and nuclear buds), evaluated by cytokinesis-block micronucleus cytome assay. Telomere length (TL) measured by quantitative PCR was shorter in exposed individuals. Global DNA methylation was significantly decreased in tobacco farmers. The exposed group had lower dietary intake of fiber, but an increase in cholesterol; vitamins such as B6, B12, and C; β-carotene; and α-retinol. Several trace and ultratrace elements were found higher in farmers than in nonfarmers. The MTHFR CT/TT genotype influenced nucleoplasmic bridges, nuclear buds, and TL in the exposed group, whereas TERT GT/TT only affected micronucleus frequency. We observed a positive correlation of TL and lipids and an inverse correlation of TL and fibers. The present data suggest an important role of dietary intake and subjects' genetic susceptibility to xenobiotics-induced damages and epigenetic alterations in tobacco farmers occupationally exposed to mixtures of pesticides.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brazil
  • DNA Damage / drug effects
  • DNA Damage / genetics
  • Diet*
  • Farmers
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Genomic Instability / drug effects*
  • Genomic Instability / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (NADPH2) / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotiana
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Pesticides / adverse effects*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Telomerase / genetics
  • Telomere Shortening / drug effects


  • Pesticides
  • MTHFR protein, human
  • Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (NADPH2)
  • TERT protein, human
  • Telomerase