Article Text

other Versions

Download PDFPDF
Short Report
Oxidative DNA damage during night shift work
  1. Parveen Bhatti1,
  2. Dana K Mirick1,
  3. Timothy W Randolph2,
  4. Jicheng Gong3,4,
  5. Diana Taibi Buchanan5,
  6. Junfeng (Jim) Zhang3,
  7. Scott Davis1
  1. 1 Program in Epidemiology, Division of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, USA
  2. 2 Program in Biostatistics and Biomathematics, Division of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, USA
  3. 3 Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment and Duke Global Health Institute, Durham, North Carolina, USA
  4. 4 Department of Environmental Science, College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering & BIC-ESAT, Peking University, Beijing, China
  5. 5 Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, School of Nursing, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Parveen Bhatti, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Avenue North, M4-B874, P.O. Box 19024, Seattle, WA 98109-1024, USA; pbhatti{at}


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

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors All authors participated substantially in the analysis and interpretation of data and the drafting and revision of the manuscript. All authors approved the manuscript for publication.

  • Funding The study was funded by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, V Foundation for Cancer Research and grants R01 CA097090 and R01 CA116400 from the US National Cancer Institute.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Institutional Review Board of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.