Genetic susceptibility to benzene and shortened gestation: Evidence of gene-environment interaction

Xiaobin Wang, Dafang Chen, Tianhua Niu, Zhaoxi Wang, Lihua Wang, Louise Ryan, Thomas Smith, David C. Christiani, Barry Zuckerman, Xiping Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


This study investigated whether the association between low level benzene exposure and shortened gestation is modified by two susceptibility genes, CYP1A1 and GSTT1. This report includes 542 (302 nonexposed, 240 benzene-exposed) nonsmoking and nondrinking mothers of singleton live births at Beijing Yanshan Petrochemical Corporation between June 1995 and June 1997. Epidemiologic and clinical data and blood samples were obtained from mothers. Multiple linear regression models were used to estimate the associations of benzene exposure and genetic susceptibility with gestational age, adjusting for maternal age, education, parity, stress, passive smoking, prepregnancy weight and height, and infant's sex. Without consideration of genotype, benzene exposure was associated with a decrease in mean gestational age of 0.29 (standard error (SE), 0.12) week. When stratified by the maternal CYP1A1 genotype, the estimated decrease was 0.54 (SE, 0.12) week for the AA group, which was significantly greater (p = 0.003) than that for the Aa/aa group, which showed no decrease in gestational age. When both CYP1A1 and GSTT1 were considered, the greatest decrease was found among exposed mothers with the CYP1A1 AA-GSTT1 absent group (0.79 (SE, 0.25) week) and the CYP1A1 AA-GSTT1 present group (0.50 (SE, 0.22) week). Among the nonexposed, genetic susceptibility alone did not confer a significant adverse effect. This study provides evidence of gene-environment interaction and supports further assessment of the role of genetic susceptibility in the evaluation of reproductive toxins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)693-700
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Benzene
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1
  • Environmental exposure
  • Genes
  • Genetic predisposition to disease
  • Gestational age
  • Glutathione transferase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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