Genotoxic effects and oxidative stress induced by organic extracts of particulate matter (PM10) collected from a subway tunnel in Seoul, Korea

Mi Hyun Jung, Ha Ryong Kim, Yong Joo Park, Duck Shin Park, Kyu Hyuck Chung, Seung Min Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Particulate matter (PM) has become an important health risk factor in our society. PM can easily deposit in the bronchi and lungs, causing diverse diseases such as respiratory infections, lung cancers and cardiovascular diseases. In recent days, more and more toxicological studies have been dealing with air particles in distinctive areas including industrial areas, transportation sites, or indoors. Studies on subway PM in particular, have been recognizing PM as an important health risk factor because many people use subways as a major mode of public transportation (4 million people a day in Korea). The main aim of the present study was to evaluate the genotoxic effects of organic extract (OE) of subway PM10 and potential attribution of PAHs to these effects. Particles were collected in the subway tunnel at Kil-eum station (Line 4) for one month and then extracted with Dichloromethane (DCM). Chinese Hamster Ovary cells (CHO-K1) and human normal bronchial cells (BEAS-2B) were exposed to OE, and MN and Comet assays were conducted to analyze the genotoxicity. The results showed that OE increased DNA or chromosome damages in both cell lines. In the modified Comet assay and MN assay with free radical scavengers, we confirmed that the genotoxic effect of OE was partially due to the oxidative damage on DNA. DCFH-DA assay also indicated that OE induced ROS generation in BEAS-2B cells. PAHs [benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(k)fluoranthrene, etc.], the most well-known carcinogens in polluted air, were detected in Kil-eum PM10. In conclusion, our findings confirmed that OE of subway PM10 has genotoxic effects on normal human lung cells, and oxidative stress could be one of the major mechanisms of these genotoxic effects. In addition, some genotoxic and carcinogenic PAHs were detected in OE by GC/MS/MS, even though PAHs level was not enough to increase CYP1A1 gene. Therefore, we suggest that additive or synergistic effects by unidentified chemicals as well as PAHs contained in OE of subway PM10 may induce genotoxic effects and further researches are needed to identify the genotoxic compounds in subway PM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-47
Number of pages9
JournalMutation Research - Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Dec 12


  • Genotoxicity
  • PAHs
  • PM10
  • ROS
  • Subway

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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