Profile of Chromosomal Alterations, Chromosomal Instability and Clonal Heterogeneity in Colombian Farmers Exposed to Pesticides

María Paula Meléndez-Flórez, Duvan Sebastián Valbuena, Sebastián Cepeda, Nelson Rangel, Maribel Forero-Castro, María Martínez-Agüero, Milena Rondón-Lagos

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Pesticides are a group of environmental pollutants widely used in agriculture to protect crops, and their indiscriminate use has led to a growing public awareness about the health hazards associated with exposure to these substances. In fact, exposure to pesticides has been associated with an increased risk of developing diseases, including cancer. In a study previously published by us, we observed the induction of specific chromosomal alterations and, in general, the deleterious effect of pesticides on the chromosomes of five individuals exposed to pesticides. Considering the importance of our previous findings and their implications in the identification of cytogenetic biomarkers for the monitoring of exposed populations, we decided to conduct a new study with a greater number of individuals exposed to pesticides. Considering the above, the aim of this study was to evaluate the type and frequency of chromosomal alterations, chromosomal variants, the level of chromosomal instability and the clonal heterogeneity in a group of thirty-four farmers occupationally exposed to pesticides in the town of Simijacá, Colombia, and in a control group of thirty-four unexposed individuals, by using Banding Cytogenetics and Molecular Cytogenetics (Fluorescence in situ hybridization). Our results showed that farmers exposed to pesticides had significantly increased frequencies of chromosomal alterations, chromosomal variants, chromosomal instability and clonal heterogeneity when compared with controls. Our results confirm the results previously reported by us, and indicate that occupational exposure to pesticides induces not only chromosomal instability but also clonal heterogeneity in the somatic cells of people exposed to pesticides. This study constitutes, to our knowledge, the first study that reports clonal heterogeneity associated with occupational exposure to pesticides. Chromosomal instability and clonal heterogeneity, in addition to reflecting the instability of the system, could predispose cells to acquire additional instability and, therefore, to an increased risk of developing diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number820209
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
StatePublished - Feb 24 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

Author Keywords

  • Concept
  • pesticides
  • chromosomal alterations
  • chromosomal instability
  • clonal heterogeneity
  • occupational exposure

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