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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 28, 2020

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) methylation in children exposed to air pollution: a possible mechanism underlying respiratory health effects development

  • Nur Faseeha Suhaimi ORCID logo , Juliana Jalaludin ORCID logo EMAIL logo and Suhaili Abu Bakar ORCID logo


Air pollution is a substantial environmental threat to children and acts as acute and chronic disease risk factors alike. Several studies have previously evaluated epigenetic modifications concerning its exposure across various life stages. However, findings on epigenetic modifications as the consequences of air pollution during childhood are rather minimal. This review evaluated highly relevant studies in the field to analyze the existing literature regarding exposure to air pollution, with a focus on epigenetic alterations during childhood and their connections with respiratory health effects. The search was conducted using readily available electronic databases (PubMed and ScienceDirect) to screen for children’s studies on epigenetic mechanisms following either pre- or post-natal exposure to air pollutants. Studies relevant enough and matched the predetermined criteria were chosen to be reviewed. Non-English articles and studies that did not report both air monitoring and epigenetic outcomes in the same article were excluded. The review found that epigenetic changes have been linked with exposure to air pollutants during early life with evidence and reports of how they may deregulate the epigenome balance, thus inducing disease progression in the future. Epigenetic studies evolve as a promising new approach in deciphering the underlying impacts of air pollution on deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) due to links established between some of these epigenetic mechanisms and illnesses.

Corresponding author: Juliana Jalaludin, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia; Department of Occupational Health and Safety, Faculty of Public Health, Universitas Airlangga, 60115Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, Phone: +60397692396, E-mail:

Funding source: Ministry of Education Malaysia

Award Identifier / Grant number: 04-01-19-2129FR


NFS would like to acknowledge the scholarships provided by the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM/PEND/500-1/10/1) and Ministry of Education Malaysia (KPM(BS)910801146118).

  1. Research funding: This paper was written in part for a Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS) research project funded by the Ministry of Education Malaysia (Project Code: 04-01-19-2129FR).

  2. Competing interests: Authors state no conflict of interest.

  3. Informed consent: Informed consent is not applicable.

  4. Ethical approval: The conducted research is not related to either human or animal use.


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Received: 2020-06-04
Accepted: 2020-07-13
Published Online: 2020-08-28
Published in Print: 2021-03-26

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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