Chromosomal instability in farmers exposed to pesticides: High prevalence of clonal and non-clonal chromosomal alterations

Sebastian Cepeda, Maribel Forero-Castro, Diana Cárdenas-Nieto, María Martínez-Agüero, Milena Rondón-Lagos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Introduction: An important economic activity in Colombia is agricultural production and farmers are frequently exposed to pesticides. Occupational exposure to pesticides is associated with an increased incidence of various diseases, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, reproductive disorders, and birth defects. However, although high genotoxicity is associated with these chemicals, information about the type and frequency of specific chromosomal alterations (CAs) and the level of chromosomal instability (CIN) induced by exposure to pesticides is scarce or absent. Methods: In this study, CAs and CIN were assessed in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) from five farmers occupationally exposed to pesticides and from five unexposed individuals using GTG-banding and molecular cytogenetic analysis. Results: A significant increase in clonal and non-clonal chromosomal alterations was observed in pesticide-exposed individuals compared with unexposed individuals (510±12,2 vs 73±5,7, respectively; p<0.008). Among all CAs, monosomies and deletions were more frequently observed in the exposed group. Also, a high frequency of fragilities was observed in the exposed group. Conclusion: Together, these findings suggest that exposure to pesticides could be associated with CIN in PBLs and indicate the need for the establishment of educational programs on safety precautions when handling pesticides, such as wearing gloves, masks and boots, changing clothes and maintaining proper hygiene, among others. Further evaluation in other similar studies that include a greater number of individuals exposed to pesticides is necessary.

Translated title of the contributionInestabilidad cromosómica en agricultores expuestos a pesticidas.: Alta prevalencia de alteraciones cromosómicas clonales y no clonales.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-110
Number of pages14
JournalRisk Management and Healthcare Policy
StatePublished - Feb 11 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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