Associations among phthalate exposure, DNA methylation of TSLP, and childhood allergy

Wan-Ru Wang, Nai-Tzu Chen, Nai-Yun Hsu, I-Ying Kuo, Hsin-Wen Chang, Jiu-Yao Wang, Huey-Jen Su
Clinical Epigenetics 2021 April 9, 13 (1): 76

BACKGROUND: Dysregulation of thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) expressions is linked to asthma and allergic disease. Exposure to phthalate esters, a widely used plasticizer, is associated with respiratory and allergic morbidity. Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) causes TSLP upregulation in the skin. In addition, phthalate exposure is associated with changes in environmentally induced DNA methylation, which might cause phenotypic heterogeneity. This study examined the DNA methylation of the TSLP gene to determine the potential mechanism between phthalate exposure and allergic diseases.

RESULTS: Among all evaluated, only benzyl butyl phthalate (BBzP) in the settled dusts were negatively correlated with the methylation levels of TSLP and positively associated with children's respiratory symptoms. The results revealed that every unit increase in BBzP concentration in the settled dust was associated with a 1.75% decrease in the methylation level on upstream 775 bp from the transcription start site (TSS) of TSLP (β =  - 1.75, p = 0.015) after adjustment for child's sex, age, BMI, parents' smoking status, allergic history, and education levels, PM2.5 , formaldehyde, temperature; and relative humidity. Moreover, every percentage increase in the methylation level was associated with a 20% decrease in the risk of morning respiratory symptoms in the children (OR 0.80, 95% CI 0.65-0.99).

CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to BBzP in settled dust might increase children's respiratory symptoms in the morning through decreasing TSLP methylation. Therefore, the exposure to BBzP should be reduced especially for the children already having allergic diseases.

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