Molecular surveillance of hepatitis and tuberculosis infections in a cohort exposed to methyl isocyanate
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India Research Wing Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre, Bhopal, India
India Division of Translational Research, Tata Memorial Centre, ACTREC, Navi, Mumbai, India
Scientific Officer — E, Division of Translational Research, Tata Memorial Centre, ACTREC, Navi Mumbai, 410 210, India
India Department of Microbiology, Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre, Bhopal, India
Department of Surgical & Medical Gastroenterology, Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre, Bhopal, India
Department of Bioinformatics, Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal, India
Department of Pathology, Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre, Bhopal, India
Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2011;24(1):94-101
Objective: The potential toxic effects on the immune system exerted by occupational and accidental environmental exposures and underlying molecular regulatory mechanisms involved in the etiology and progression of infectious diseases are now being characterized. The Bhopal gas tragedy is undoubtedly one of the worst industrial disasters in the history of mankind. After 25 years of accidental exposure to methyl isocyanate (MIC), severe systemic ailments still continue to preoccupy the lives of the affected population that survived this tragedy. We have performed a molecular surveillance study to characterize hepatitis and tuberculosis infections amongst the first and the second generation of survivors exposed to MIC. Materials and Methods: Both outdoor and indoor patients referred for molecular diagnosis of hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) were examined. Qualitative analysis for HBsAg, anti-HBc, anti-HCV through ELISA was performed, while BacT/ALERT and Ziehl-Neelson technique were utilized for the assessment of tuberculosis. Detection and quantification of viral and bacterial nucleic acid and characterization of hepatitis genotypes were analyzed using real-time and end-point PCR techniques. Results: The results suggest that HBV infections are most common among the MIC-exposed cohort, followed by extra-pulmonary and pulmonary MTB and HCV infections. Genotype 3 is the most prevalent HCV genotype among the survivors. Failure to detect HBsAg, anti-HBc and anti-HCV through ELISA, and tuberculosis by culture and Ziehl-Neelson stain, indicates higher prevalence of occult hepatitis and latent tuberculosis in the affected population. Conclusions: Our study underscores the importance of hospital-based records used as a data source for monitoring possible environmental health hazards. As the risk of progress of infection is often influenced by conditions and periods of environmental chemical exposure, therefore, insights of interconnected molecular pathways will further illuminate the gene-environment association and might offer valuable information for rational drug design.
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