Effects of environmental noise exposure on DNA methylation in the brain and metabolic health

Guo L., LI P., LI H., Colicino E., COLICINO S., Wen Y., ...More

ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH, vol.153, pp.73-82, 2017 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 153
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.11.017
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.73-82
  • Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Affiliated: Yes


Environmental noise exposure is associated with adverse effects on human health including hearing loss, heart disease, and changes in stress-related hormone levels. Alteration in DNA methylation in response to environmental exposures is a well-known phenomenon and it is implicated in many human diseases. Understanding how environmental noise exposures affect DNA methylation patterns may help to elucidate the link between noise and adverse effects on health. In this pilot study we examined the effects of environmental noise exposure on DNA methylation of genes related to brain function and investigated whether these changes are related with metabolic health. We exposed four groups of male Wistar rats to moderate intensity noise (70-75 dB with 20-4000 Hz) at night for three days as short-term exposure, and for three weeks as long-term exposure. Noise exposure was limited to 45 dB during the daytime. Control groups were exposed to only 45 dB, day and night. We measured DNA methylation in the Bdnf, Comt, Crhr1, Mc2r, and Snca genes in tissue from four brain regions of the rats (hippocampus, frontal lobe, medulla oblongata, and inferior colliculus). Further, we measured blood pressure and body weight after long-term noise exposure. We found that environmental noise exposure is associated with gene-specific DNA methylation changes in specific regions of the brain. Changes in DNA methylation are significantly associated with changes in body weight (between Bdnf DNA methylation and A body weight: r=0.59, p=0.018; and between LINE-1 ORF DNA methylation and A body weight: =-0.80, p=0.0004). We also observed that noise exposure decreased blood pressure (p=0.038 for SBP, p=0.017 for DBP and p 0.017 for MAP) and decreased body weight (beta=-26 g, p=0.008). In conclusion, environmental noise exposures can induce changes in DNA methylation in the brain, which may be associated with adverse effects upon metabolic health through modulation of response to stress-related hormones.