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Oxidative DNA damage during night shift work

Abstract

Objectives We previously reported that compared with night sleep, day sleep among shift workers was associated with reduced urinary excretion of 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OH-dG), potentially reflecting a reduced ability to repair 8-OH-dG lesions in DNA. We identified the absence of melatonin during day sleep as the likely causative factor. We now investigate whether night work is also associated with reduced urinary excretion of 8-OH-dG.

Methods For this cross-sectional study, 50 shift workers with the largest negative differences in night work versus night sleep circulating melatonin levels (measured as 6-sulfatoxymelatonin in urine) were selected from among the 223 shift workers included in our previous study. 8-OH-dG concentrations were measured in stored urine samples using high performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection. Mixed effects models were used to compare night work versus night sleep 8-OH-dG levels.

Results Circulating melatonin levels during night work (mean=17.1 ng/mg creatinine/mg creatinine) were much lower than during night sleep (mean=51.7 ng/mg creatinine). In adjusted analyses, average urinary 8-OH-dG levels during the night work period were only 20% of those observed during the night sleep period (95% CI 10% to 30%; p<0.001).

Conclusions This study suggests that night work, relative to night sleep, is associated with reduced repair of 8-OH-dG lesions in DNA and that the effect is likely driven by melatonin suppression occurring during night work relative to night sleep. If confirmed, future studies should evaluate melatonin supplementation as a means to restore oxidative DNA damage repair capacity among shift workers.

  • shift work
  • oxidative DNA damage
  • cancer

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