Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Epigenetics of Formaldehyde: Altered microRNAs May Be Key to Adverse Effects

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Epigenetics of Formaldehyde: Altered microRNAs May Be Key to Adverse Effects

Article excerpt

Formaldehyde has long been associated with asthma, acute respiratory illness, and nasopharyngeal cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has deemed it a known human carcinogen. A new study reveals evidence that epigenetic mechanisms may contribute to links between formaldehyde exposure and respiratory illness [EHP 119(4):494-500; Rager et al.]. The study authors discovered that formaldehyde disrupts levels of microRNAs, or miRNAs, small regulatory molecules that play a key rule in gene expression.

Ambient air contains formaldehyde given off from car exhaust, incinerators, and manufacturing and power plants. Formaldehyde also is widely used in preservatives and adhesives, including glue that binds plywood and particleboard, and it offgasses from furniture and building materials that use these products.

Despite formaldehyde's known respiratory toxicity, little is known about its mechanism of action related to disease. The authors of this study focused on miRNAs because earlier studies linked miRNA disturbances to a number of diseases including blood and solid-tumor cancers. …

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