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Telomere shortening associated with increased levels of oxidative stress in sulfur mustard-exposed Iranian veterans

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Peter Blain, Dr Paul Jowsey, Dr Shahriar Khateri, Professor Mahdi Balali-Mood



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Sulfur Mustard (SM) is the most widely used chemical weapon. It was used in World War 1 and in the more recent Iran-Iraq conflict. Genetic toxicity and DNA alkylation effects of SM in molecular and animal experiments are well documented. In this study, lymphocytic telomere lengths and serum levels of isoprostane F2α were measured using q-PCR and enzyme immunoassay-based methods in 40 Iranian veterans who had been exposed to SM between 1983-88 and 40 non-exposed healthy volunteers. The relative telomere length in SM-exposed individuals was found to be significantly shorter than the non-exposed individuals. In addition, the level of 8-isoprostane F2α was significantly higher in the SM-exposed group compared to controls. Oxidative stress can be caused by defective antioxidant responses following gene mutations or altered activities of antioxidant enzymes. Chronic respiratory diseases and infections may also increaseoxidative stress. The novel finding of this study was a the identification of ‘premature ageing phenotype’. More specifically, telomere shortening which occurs naturally with aging is accelerated in SM-exposed individuals. Oxidative stress, mutations in DNA repair genes and epimutaions may be among the major mechanisms of telomere attrition. These findings may help for a novel therapeutic strategy by telomere elongation or for validation of an exposure biomarker for SM toxicity.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Behravan E, Moallem SA, Kalalinia F, Ahmadimanesh M, Blain P, Jowsey P, Khateri S, Forghanifard MM, BalaliMood M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Mutation Research/Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis

Year: 2018

Volume: 834

Pages: 1-5

Print publication date: 01/10/2018

Online publication date: 20/06/2018

Acceptance date: 19/06/2018

Date deposited: 18/09/2018

ISSN (print): 1383-5718

ISSN (electronic): 1879-3592

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2018.06.017

PubMed id: 30173859


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