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Association of benzene exposure with insulin resistance, SOD, and MDA as markers of oxidative stress in children and adolescents

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Benzene is a ubiquitous environmental pollutant with various health effects. It is reported that benzene exposure might be associated with insulin resistance in elderly adults. The aim of this study is to investigate the association between urinary benzene metabolite, trans, trans-muconic acid (t,t-ma) and markers of oxidative stress and insulin resistance in children and adolescents. This cross-sectional study was conducted in 2017 among 86 children and adolescents, aged 6–18 years, living in Isfahan, Iran. t,t-ma was measured as urinary benzene metabolite and homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR) was determined as an index of insulin resistance. Moreover, malondialdehyde (MDA) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) were assessed as oxidative stress markers. We found significant association between insulin resistance, fasting blood glucose, and fasting blood insulin with t,t-ma (p values = 0.002, 0.03, and 0.001, respectively). Results of this study indicate that benzene metabolite in higher concentrations in comparison with lower concentrations is associated with increased risk of insulin resistance. Moreover, after adjustment for age, sex, and household passive smoking, statistically significant increase were documented in SOD and MDA (4.49- and 3.54-fold, respectively) in intermediate levels of t,t-ma vs. low levels of t,t-ma (p values = 0.01 and 0.034, respectively). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study in its kind in the pediatric age group. It showed that benzene exposures, even in environmental levels, might be associated with insulin resistance and oxidative stress in children and adolescents. Further longitudinal studies are necessary to assess the clinical impacts of this finding.

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We thank Engineer Babak Sadeghian (Laboratories Manager, Isfahan DOE) and Engineer Hamid Zohrabi (Head of Isfahan DOE) for providing PM2.5 data.


This study was funded by Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Research Project No. 194061.

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Correspondence to Nasim Rafiei.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Amin, M.M., Rafiei, N., Poursafa, P. et al. Association of benzene exposure with insulin resistance, SOD, and MDA as markers of oxidative stress in children and adolescents. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 34046–34052 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-018-3354-7

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  • Benzene
  • Insulin resistance
  • Oxidative stress
  • Children