The mechanism of health effects caused by organohalogen pollutants, e.g., toxins from electronic waste (e-waste), is poorly understood. We supposed that microRNAs (miRNAs), an important post-transcriptional regulator, could play a role in this process. In this study, fasting peripheral blood samples were collected from residents living at an e-waste site in northern China and a nearby reference population. Concentrations of e-waste related organohalogen pollutants in plasma from the exposure group were higher than the corresponding measurement in the reference group. Correspondingly, sixty miRNAs in plasma showed > 2-fold change between the two groups in microarray analysis. Among them, miR-125a-5p was confirmed to be upregulated by qRT-PCR and its validated targets were enriched in responses to xenobiotics and cancer related pathways. Furthermore, significant positive conelations were found between levels of miR-125a-5p in plasma and reactive oxygen species (ROS) in polymorphonuclear neutrophil leukocytes (P < 0.05). These evidences suggested oxidative stress might be an intermediate between e-waste related POPs exposure and alteration of plasma miRNA.
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