Activation of the nucleotide excision repair pathway by crude oil exposure: A translational study from model organisms to the Hebei Spirit Oil Spill Cohort

Youngho Kim, Jaeseong Jeong, Nivedita Chatterjee, Un Hyuk Yim, Jung-Hwan Kwon, Myung Sook Park, Jinhee Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


In order to gain insight into the human health implications of the Hebei Spirit Oil Spill (HSOS), the mechanism of toxicity of the Iranian heavy crude (IHC), the main oil component in the HSOS was investigated in Caenorhabditis elegans and zebrafish. The identified mechanism was translated to humans using blood samples from Taean residents, who experienced HSOS with different levels of exposure to the spill. C. elegans TF RNAi screening with IHC oil revealed the nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway as being significantly involved by oil exposure. To identify the main toxicity contributors within the chemical mixture of the crude oil, further studies were conducted on C. elegans by exposure to C3-naphthalene, an alkylated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), which constitutes one of the major components of IHC oil. Increased expression of NER pathway genes was observed following exposure to the IHC oil, C3-naphthalene enriched fraction and C3-naphthalene. As the NER pathway is conserved in fish and humans, the same experiment was conducted in zebrafish, and the data were similar to what was seen in C. elegans. Increased expression of NER pathway genes was observed in human samples from the high exposure group, which suggests the involvement of the NER pathway in IHC oil exposure. Overall, the study suggests that IHC oil may cause bulk damage to DNA and activation of the NER system and Alkylated PAHs are the major contributor to DNA damage. Our study provides an innovative approach for studying translational toxicity testing from model organisms to human health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112997
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov 1



  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Hebei Spirit Oil Spill accident
  • Nucleotide excision repair system
  • Translational approach
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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