Longitudinal evaluation of whole blood miRNA expression in firefighters

Alesia M. Jung, Jin Zhou, Shawn C. Beitel, Sally R. Littau, John J. Gulotta, Darin D. Wallentine, Paul K. Moore, Jefferey L. Burgess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Dysregulated microRNA (miRNA) expression could provide a mechanism linking firefighter exposure to increased cancer risk. Objective: To determine if changes in longitudinal miRNA expression in firefighters are associated with occupational exposures. Methods: Whole blood MiRNA was evaluated in 52 new recruits prior to live-fire training and 20–37 months later. Linear mixed effects models adjusted for age, ethnicity, BMI, and batch effects were used to determine associations separately for all fires and structure fires only between employment duration, cumulative fire-hours and fire-runs, and time since most recent fire with (1) nine a priori and (2) the full array of 799 miRNAs. Results: For multivariable models including all fires, two a priori miRNAs were associated with employment duration and four with time since most recent fire. For multivariable models restricted to structure fires, three a priori miRNAs were associated with employment duration and one with fire-runs. Additional miRNAs from the full array were associated with employment duration for all fires and/or structure fires. In general, tumor suppressive miRNAs decreased and oncogenic miRNAs increased with exposure. Significance: Changes in miRNAs may serve as biomarkers of exposure effects and a mechanism for increased cancer risk in firefighters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)900-912
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Cancer
  • Epidemiology
  • Workplace Exposures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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