Analysis of Micronuclei and Its Association with Genetic Polymorphisms in Hospital Workers Exposed to Ethylene Oxide

에틸렌옥사이드(Ethylene oxide)에 노출된 병원 근로자들의 소핵 빈도와 유전적 감수성 지표와의 연관성

  • Received : 2011.12.07
  • Accepted : 2011.12.28
  • Published : 2011.12.31


Objectives: Ethylene oxide (EtO) is classified as a human carcinogen, but EtO is still widely used to sterilize heat-sensitive materials in hospitals. Employees working around sterilizers are exposed to EtO after sterilization. The aim of the present study was to assess the exposure of EtO level, coupled with occupationally induced micronuclei from hospital workers. The influence of genetic polymorphisms of detoxifying genes (GSTT1 and GSTM1) and DNA repair genes (XRCC1 and XRCC3) on the frequencies of micronuclei in relation to exposure of EtO was also investigated. Methods: The study population was composed of 35 occupationally exposed workers to EtO, 18 student controls and 44 unexposed hospital controls in Korea. Exposure to EtO is measured by passive personal samplers. We analyzed the frequencies of micronuclei by performing cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay (CBMN assay) and GSTM1, GSTT1, XRCC1, and XRCC3 were also genotyped by performing polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP). Results: The frequencies of micronuclei in EtO exposure group, student controls and hospital controls were $18.00{\pm}7.73$, $10.47{\pm}7.96$ and $13.86{\pm}6.35$ respectively and their differences were statistically significant, but no significant differences according to the level of EtO were observed. There was a dose-response relationship between the frequencies of micronuclei and cumulative dose of EtO, but no significantly differences were observed. We also investigated the influence of genetic polymorphisms (GSTM1, GSTT1, XRCC1, and XRCC3) on the frequencies of micronuclei, but there were no differences in the frequencies of micronuclei by genetic polymorphisms. Conclusions: The frequencies of micronuclei in EtO exposure group was significantly higher than control groups. A dose-response relationship was found between the level of EtO exposure and the frequencies of micronuclei, but no statistically differences were observed. We also found that the frequencies of micronuclei were increased according to cumulative EtO level. There was no association of the genetic GSTM1, GSTT1, XRCC1, and XRCC3 state with the frequency of micronuclei induced by EtO exposure.


Ethylene oxide (EtO);Genetic polymorphism;Glutathione S-transferase (GST);Hospital workers;Micronuclei (MN);X-ray repair cross-complementing group (XRCC)


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