Genetic and Epigenetic Alterations Induced by Pesticide Exposure: Integrated Analysis of Gene Expression, microRNA Expression, and DNA Methylation Datasets

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Aug 17;18(16):8697. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18168697.


Environmental or occupational exposure to pesticides is considered one of the main risk factors for the development of various diseases. Behind the development of pesticide-associated pathologies, there are both genetic and epigenetic alterations, where these latter are mainly represented by the alteration in the expression levels of microRNAs and by the change in the methylation status of the DNA. At present, no studies have comprehensively evaluated the genetic and epigenetic alterations induced by pesticides; therefore, the aim of the present study was to identify modifications in gene miRNA expression and DNA methylation useful for the prediction of pesticide exposure. For this purpose, an integrated analysis of gene expression, microRNA expression, and DNA methylation datasets obtained from the GEO DataSets database was performed to identify putative genes, microRNAs, and DNA methylation hotspots associated with pesticide exposure and responsible for the development of different diseases. In addition, DIANA-miRPath, STRING, and GO Panther prediction tools were used to establish the functional role of the putative biomarkers identified. The results obtained demonstrated that pesticides can modulate the expression levels of different genes and induce different epigenetic alterations in the expression levels of miRNAs and in the modulation of DNA methylation status.

Keywords: DNA methylation; bioinformatics; biomarkers; epigenetics; microRNAs; neurodegenerative diseases; pesticides; tumors.

MeSH terms

  • DNA Methylation
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Gene Expression
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics
  • MicroRNAs* / metabolism
  • Pesticides* / toxicity


  • MicroRNAs
  • Pesticides