Special Issue "Biomarkers and Human Biomonitoring in Occupational Medicine"

A special issue of Applied Sciences (ISSN 2076-3417). This special issue belongs to the section "Applied Biosciences and Bioengineering".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Caterina Ledda
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Occupational Medicine, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Catania, Catania, Italy; Department of Public Health and Infection Disease, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
Interests: occupational medicine; biomarkers; epidemiology
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Venerando Rapisarda
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Occupational Medicine, University Hospital “Policlinico–Vittorio Emanuele” University of Catania, via Santa Sofia, 78 Catania 95123, Italy
Interests: occupational medicine; inflammation; carcinogenesis; work-related stress
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Over the last years, biomarkers have increasingly expanded and become early and specific end points for monitoring cellular responses to various disease states and exposures to drugs and chemical agents. They have enjoyed some success as predictors of health outcomes for a number of clinical diseases, but their application for chemical exposure risk assessments has been more limited. Biomarkers may be classified into markers of exposure, effect, and susceptibility.

To be useful in providing linkage to human exposure, biomarkers should be as specific as possible to the exposure agents and highly sensitive, so to detect even low levels of exposure.

Assessment methods have to be carried out in the proper biological matrix, employing analytical, reliable, and reproducible lab equipment.

Exposure biomarkers may be the exposure agent itself, chemical metabolites, products of the interaction between a chemical and some target molecules, cells, or fractions of them, detected in biological matrixes.

This Special Issue aims to update biomarker classes and examine new potential biomarkers and their validation and translation, which are necessary to reveal their full potential and allow their acceptance as valuable tools in risk assessment.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • New biomarkers in occupational medicine
  • How biomarkers are used to assess occupational exposure
  • When and why biomarkers may be appropriate tools for specific settings
  • Advantages, limitations, and challenges of biomonitoring
  • Exposure pathways
  • Advantages and limitations of biomarkers
  • Methodological, risk communication, and ethical issues.
  • Biomonitoring of occupational exposure

Dr. Caterina Ledda
Prof. Dr. Venerando Rapisarda
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Applied Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Biomarkers and Human Biomonitoring in Occupational Medicine
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(18), 6181; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10186181 - 05 Sep 2020
Abstract
Over the last years, biomarkers have increasingly expanded and become early and specific end points for monitoring cellular responses to various disease states and exposures to drugs and chemical agents. They have enjoyed some success as predictors of health outcomes for a number [...] Read more.
Over the last years, biomarkers have increasingly expanded and become early and specific end points for monitoring cellular responses to various disease states and exposures to drugs and chemical agents. They have enjoyed some success as predictors of health outcomes for a number of clinical diseases, but their application for chemical exposure risk assessments has been more limited. Biomarkers may be classified into markers of exposure, effect, and susceptibility. To be useful in providing linkage to human exposure, biomarkers should be as specific as possible to the exposure agents and highly sensitive, so to detect even low levels of exposure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers and Human Biomonitoring in Occupational Medicine)

Research

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Open AccessArticle
Long-Term Impact of Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries on Multiple Functional Outcomes and Epigenetics: A Pilot Study with College Students
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 4131; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10124131 - 16 Jun 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
People who suffer a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) have heterogeneous symptoms and disease trajectories, which make it difficult to precisely assess long-term complications. This pilot study assessed and compared deficits in cognitive, psychosocial, visual functions, and balance performance between college students with [...] Read more.
People who suffer a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) have heterogeneous symptoms and disease trajectories, which make it difficult to precisely assess long-term complications. This pilot study assessed and compared deficits in cognitive, psychosocial, visual functions, and balance performance between college students with and without histories of mTBI. Global DNA methylation ratio (5-mC%) in blood was also compared as a peripheral epigenetic marker. Twenty-five volunteers participated, including 14 healthy controls (64.3% females; mean age of 22.0) and 11 mTBI cases (27.3% females; mean age of 28.7 years) who self-reported mTBI history (63.6% multiple; 2.5 ± 1.29 injuries) with 7.1 years on average elapsed following the last injury. Every participant was assessed for cognitive (executive function, memory, and processing speed), psychological (depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances), and visual function (by King–Devick and binocular accommodative tests); force-plate postural balance performance; and blood 5-mC% levels. Students with mTBI showed poorer episodic memory, severe anxiety, and higher blood 5-mC% ratio, compared to controls (all p’s < 0.05), which were still significant after adjusting for age. No differences were detected in sleep problems (after adjusting for age), visual function, and postural balance. These findings identified changes in multiple functions and peripheral epigenetics long after mTBI. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers and Human Biomonitoring in Occupational Medicine)
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Open AccessArticle
Exosomal miR-92a Concentration in the Serum of Shift Workers
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(2), 430; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10020430 - 07 Jan 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Shift work is associated with alterations in the human biological clock and metabolism. Serum exosomal miR-92a concentration was inversely correlated with brown adipose tissue activity playing a pivotal role in energy balance. In this study, miR-92a was measured in serum exosomes of 30 [...] Read more.
Shift work is associated with alterations in the human biological clock and metabolism. Serum exosomal miR-92a concentration was inversely correlated with brown adipose tissue activity playing a pivotal role in energy balance. In this study, miR-92a was measured in serum exosomes of 30 workers engaged in shift and daytime work. No significant metabolic alterations were shown between daytime and shift workers while a difference in serum exosomal miR-92a levels was found between the two groups. The lower levels of miR-92a in shift workers were suggestive of a higher brown adipose tissue activity compared with daytime workers. However, the possibility that other physiological and pathological processes may influence miR-92a cannot be ruled out. Our results suggest further investigations on brown adipose tissue activity and on miR-92a regulatory mechanisms, such as those related to the estrogen pathway, in shift workers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers and Human Biomonitoring in Occupational Medicine)
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Open AccessArticle
Pre-Columbian Archeological Textiles: A Source of Pseudomonas aeruginosa with Virulence Attributes
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(1), 116; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10010116 - 22 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen associated with a broad spectrum of infections in humans. However, the pathogenicity of environmental P. aeruginosa strains, especially isolates from museums and conservation laboratories, is not widely recognized. In this study, the virulence attributes of P. aeruginosa [...] Read more.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen associated with a broad spectrum of infections in humans. However, the pathogenicity of environmental P. aeruginosa strains, especially isolates from museums and conservation laboratories, is not widely recognized. In this study, the virulence attributes of P. aeruginosa isolated from pre-Columbian textiles were compared to those of a clinical strain. Both genetically identified environmental strains (KP842564 and KP842565) exhibited a high ability to form biofilms on abiotic surfaces and high hemolytic activity. In addition, strain KP842564 was a moderate pyocyanin producer and showed proteolytic properties toward bovine serum albumin, fibrinogen, mucin, and casein. In contrast to the clinical isolate, the environmental strains were susceptible to all the tested antimicrobial agents. The strains also showed high bioadhesion and colonization capacity on archeological textile samples, in which wool fibers were the only source of nutrients, as confirmed by scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDX) analysis. This study highlights the need to identify microorganisms which inhabit historic objects, in order to avoid exposure to occupational hazards. Although the strain KP842565 exhibited only some of the examined virulence-related features, given that the production of pyocyanin and hemolysins as well as the formation of biofilm are important virulence factors of P. aeruginosa, the results indicate that these strains may present a potential health risk for humans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers and Human Biomonitoring in Occupational Medicine)
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Open AccessArticle
Urinary Levels of Free 2,5-Hexanedione in Italian Subjects Non-Occupationally Exposed to n-Hexane
Appl. Sci. 2019, 9(24), 5277; https://doi.org/10.3390/app9245277 - 04 Dec 2019
Abstract
The purpose of the study is to evaluate the urinary levels of free 2,5-hexanedione (2,5-HD) in Italian subjects non-occupationally exposed to n-hexane, in order to define background values in non-occupational settings. The study was carried out on 99 subjects of the general population. [...] Read more.
The purpose of the study is to evaluate the urinary levels of free 2,5-hexanedione (2,5-HD) in Italian subjects non-occupationally exposed to n-hexane, in order to define background values in non-occupational settings. The study was carried out on 99 subjects of the general population. The analysis of free 2,5-HD was performed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Personal information about the subjects was ascertained by means of a self-administered questionnaire. The urinary levels of free 2,5-HD were in the range of <12.0–77.9 µg/L (5th–95th percentiles). The urinary excretion of the metabolite did not seem to be influenced by gender, age, smoking habit or area of residence. Statistically significant differences (p = 0.03) were found between the free 2,5-HD urinary levels according to the vehicular traffic intensity within the area of residence and to body mass index of subjects. The background levels of free 2,5-HD found in this study could contribute to the definition of reference values of general population non-occupationally exposed and could be useful to the toxicologists and industrial hygienists to determine whether workers have been exposed to higher levels of n-hexane than the general population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers and Human Biomonitoring in Occupational Medicine)
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Open AccessArticle
Influence of Polymorphisms of DNA Repair and GST Genes on Genotoxic Damage and Mutagen Sensitivity in Workers Occupationally Exposed to Very Low Doses of Ionizing Radiation
Appl. Sci. 2019, 9(23), 5175; https://doi.org/10.3390/app9235175 - 28 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The study investigated the influence of genetic polymorphisms of the enzymes for DNA repair and detoxification of reactive intermediates on spontaneous and bleomycin-induced (BLM) genotoxic damage in 43 workers exposed to very low doses of ionizing radiation (IR) (mean cumulative dose 5.31 mSv) [...] Read more.
The study investigated the influence of genetic polymorphisms of the enzymes for DNA repair and detoxification of reactive intermediates on spontaneous and bleomycin-induced (BLM) genotoxic damage in 43 workers exposed to very low doses of ionizing radiation (IR) (mean cumulative dose 5.31 mSv) and 43 subjects with no occupational exposure to IR (controls). In all the subjects examined, the frequency of chromosome aberrations (CAs) and micronuclei (MN), both spontaneous and BLM-induced, the Comet assay parameters (tail intensity), the genotypic variants of the DNA repair enzymes XRCC1 (Arg194Trp, Arg280His, Arg399Gln), XRCC3 (Thr241Met), XPD (Lys751Gln), and of the detoxification enzymes GSTM1 and GSTT1 (null genotype) and BLMH (A1450G) were determined. Among the biomarkers considered, only the frequency of total CAs (p < 0.05), and in particular of chromosome breaks (p < 0.01), was found to be significantly higher in the exposed workers than the controls. The frequency of spontaneous MN was higher in subjects with at least one allelic variant in XRCC1 than in carriers of the wild-type, but again only in exposed workers (p = 0.046). Linear regression analysis showed a positive dependency of the frequency of spontaneous chromosome breaks on occupational exposure, and a dependency of the frequency of BLM-induced MN negative on occupational exposure and positive on alcohol consumption and the null GSTM1 genotype. In conclusion, the frequency of chromosome breaks seems to be a useful cytogenetic biomarker for exposure to very low doses of IR, while only the combined effect of different gene variants or genetic, occupational, and lifestyle habits factors seems to be able to modulate the genotoxic effect of very low doses of IR. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers and Human Biomonitoring in Occupational Medicine)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Phthalates Exposure and Occupational Symptoms among Slovakian Hairdressing Apprentices
Appl. Sci. 2019, 9(16), 3321; https://doi.org/10.3390/app9163321 - 13 Aug 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
The objectives of the study were to examine occupational exposure to phthalates of hairdressing apprentices from Slovakia (n = 74, 89.2% females; 10.8% males), outcomes related to body composition and pulmonary functions. We used high-performance liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry to the [...] Read more.
The objectives of the study were to examine occupational exposure to phthalates of hairdressing apprentices from Slovakia (n = 74, 89.2% females; 10.8% males), outcomes related to body composition and pulmonary functions. We used high-performance liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry to the quantified urinary concentration of phthalates. Pulmonary function test (PFT), anthropometric measurements, and questionnaire were also conducted. We observed a decrease of % of predicted values of forced vital capacity (FVC% of PV) related exposure to mono(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate (MEOHP; p = 0.054) and sum of bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate metabolites (∑DEHP; p = 0.037), and a decrease of % of predicted values of vital capacity (VC% of PV) related to exposure to MEOHP, ∑DEHP (p = 0.008), and mono(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate (MEHHP; p = 0.014) in females. We detected associations between forced vital capacity (FVC) with weight (p = 0.002) and fat-free mass index (FFMI, p = 0.010). Vital capacity (VC) and VC% of PV increased with weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), hip circumference (HC), waist-hip ratio (WHR), the waist-height ratio (WHtR), fat mass index (FMI) and FFMI in females (p ≤ 0.014). Results of multivariate regression between PFT and anthropometric parameters adjusted to phthalates indicated exposure to MnBP and MEHP, changing body structure (BMI and FMI), subsequently affecting values of FEV1/FVC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers and Human Biomonitoring in Occupational Medicine)

Review

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Open AccessReview
Telomere Length as a Biomarker of Biological Aging in Shift Workers
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(8), 2764; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10082764 - 16 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Shift work (SW) comprises a work schedule that involves recurring times of nonstandard work hours balanced to a fixed daily work plan with regular day work times and has been evaluated as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A) by IARC. SW may result [...] Read more.
Shift work (SW) comprises a work schedule that involves recurring times of nonstandard work hours balanced to a fixed daily work plan with regular day work times and has been evaluated as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A) by IARC. SW may result in increased age acceleration. This systematic review aims to elucidate the usefulness of telomere length as a biomarker of biological aging in shift workers. All studies analyzed underline a shortening of telomere length in SW, and aging in shift workers and duration of work. Methodologies to measure biological aging are possible to advance efforts to clarify the basic biology of aging and provide clinicians an instrument to communicate complex health advice to workers. Telomere length measures can also give an instrument for precision medicine, useful for occupational physicians in age-related screening conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers and Human Biomonitoring in Occupational Medicine)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Formaldehyde Exposure and Epigenetic Effects: A Systematic Review
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(7), 2319; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10072319 - 28 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Formaldehyde (FA) is a general living and occupational pollutant, classified as carcinogenic for humans. Although genotoxicity is recognized as a FA mechanism of action, a potential contribution of epigenetic effects cannot be excluded. Therefore, aim of this review is to comprehensively assess possible [...] Read more.
Formaldehyde (FA) is a general living and occupational pollutant, classified as carcinogenic for humans. Although genotoxicity is recognized as a FA mechanism of action, a potential contribution of epigenetic effects cannot be excluded. Therefore, aim of this review is to comprehensively assess possible epigenetic alterations induced by FA exposure in humans, animals, and cellular models. A systematic review of Pubmed, Scopus, and Isi Web of Science databases was performed. DNA global methylation changes were demonstrated in workers exposed to FA, and also in human bronchial cells. Histone alterations, i.e., the reduction in acetylation of histone lysine residues, in human lung cells were induced by FA. Moreover, a dysregulation of microRNA expression in human lung adenocarcinoma cells as well as in the nose, olfactory bulb and white blood cells of rodents and nonhuman primates was reported. Although preliminary, these findings suggest the role of epigenetic modifications as possible FA mechanisms of action that need deeper qualitative and quantitative investigation. This may allow to define the role of such alterations as indicators of early biological effect and the opportunity to include such information in future risk assessment and management strategies for public and occupationally FA-exposed populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers and Human Biomonitoring in Occupational Medicine)
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