Urine proteome profile of firefighters with exposure to emergency fire-induced smoke: A pilot study to identify potential carcinogenic effects

Sci Total Environ. 2024 Jun 1:927:172273. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.172273. Epub 2024 Apr 5.


Firefighters are frequently exposed to a variety of chemicals formed from smoke, which pose a risk for numerous diseases, including cancer. Comparative urine proteome profiling could significantly improve our understanding of the early detection of potential cancer biomarkers. In this study, for the first time, we conducted a comparative protein profile analysis of 20 urine samples collected from ten real-life firefighters prior to and following emergency fire-induced smoke. Using a label-free quantitative proteomics platform, we identified and quantified 1325 unique protein groups, of which 45 proteins showed differential expressions in abundance in response to fire-smoke exposure (post) compared to the control (pre). Pathway analysis showed proteins associated with epithelium development (e.g., RHCG, HEG1, ADAMTSL2) and Alzheimer's disease (SORL1) were significantly increased in response to smoke exposure samples. A protein-protein-network study showed a possible link between these differentially abundant proteins and the known cancer gene (TP53). Moreover, a cross-comparison analysis revealed that seven proteins-ALDH1A1, APCS, POMC, COL2A1, RDX, DDAH2, and SDC4 overlapped with the previously published urine cancer proteome datasets, suggesting a potential cancer risk. Our findings demonstrated that the discovery proteomic platform is a promising analytical technique for identifying potential non-invasive biomarkers associated with fire-smoke exposure in firefighters that may be related to cancer.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Cancer; Fire smoke; Firefighters; Proteomic; Urine.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Carcinogens
  • Firefighters*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Proteome*
  • Proteomics
  • Smoke* / adverse effects


  • Smoke
  • Proteome
  • Biomarkers
  • Carcinogens