Biomarkers in exposure assessment are defined as the quantifiable targets that indicate the exposure to hazardous chemicals and their resulting health effect. In this study, we aimed to identify, validate, and characterize the mRNA biomarker that can detect the exposure of sodium cyanide. To identify reliable biomarkers for sodium cyanide exposure, critical criteria were defined for candidate selection: (1) the expression level of mRNA significantly changes in response to sodium thiocyanate treatment in transcriptomics results (fold change > 2.0 or <0.50, adjusted p-value < 0.05); and (2) the mRNA level is significantly modulated by sodium cyanide exposure in both normal human lung cells and rat lung tissue. We identified the following mRNA biomarker candidates: ADCY5, ANGPTL4, CCNG2, CD9, COL1A2, DACT3, GGCX, GRB14, H1F0, HSPA1A, MAF, MAT2A, PPP1R10, and PPP4C. The expression levels of these candidates were commonly downregulated by sodium cyanide exposure both in vitro and in vivo. We functionally characterized the biomarkers and established the impact of sodium cyanide on transcriptomic profiles using in silico approaches. Our results suggest that the biomarkers may contribute to the regulation and degradation of the extracellular matrix, leading to a negative effect on surrounding lung cells.
Keywords: RNA-seq; biomarker; exposure assessment; sodium cyanide.