Metabolomics has been used to explore the molecular mechanism and screen biomarkers. However, the critical metabolic signatures associated with benzene-induced hematotoxicity remain elusive. Here, we performed a plasma metabolomics study in 86 benzene-exposed workers and 76 healthy controls, followed by a validation analysis in mice, to investigate the dynamical change of the metabolic profile. We found that 8 fatty acids were significantly altered in both benzene-exposed worker and benzene-exposed animal models. These metabolites were significantly associated with S-phenylmercapturic acid and WBC, and they mediated the benzene-induced WBC decline. Furthermore, in vivo results confirm that fatty acid levels were dynamically altered, characterized by a decrease at 15 days and then sharp increases at 30 and 45 days. Following these identified fatty acids, the potential metabolic pathways were investigated. Fatty acids, as precursors for fatty acid oxidation, may disturb the balance of fatty acid biosynthesis and degradation. Our results reveal that fatty acid metabolism was strongly reprogrammed after benzene exposure. This abnormal change of fatty acids might be the key metabolic signature associated with benzene-induced hematotoxicity.
Xiaoli Guo, Lei Zhang, Jingyu Wang, Wei Zhang, Jing Ren, Yujiao Chen, Yanlin Zhang, Ai Gao