Global DNA methylation changes in rock pigeon (Columba livia) as a sentinel species due to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons exposure in Tehran (Iran) as a megacity

  • Sahel Pakzad Toochaei
  • Seyed Mahmoud GhasempouriEmail author
  • Alireza Riyahi Bakhtiari
  • Saber Khodabandeh
Research Article


Global DNA methylation, as an epigenetic modifications, can be a promising genomic marker for monitoring the contaminants and predicting their adverse health effects. The study aims to assess the effects of 16 PAH concentration on the altered DNA methylation levels in the kidney and liver of rock pigeon (Columba livia), as a sentinel species, from Tehran megacity as well as 40 days benzo(a)pyrene in vitro exposure: (0.1, 2.5, 5, 7.5, and 10 mg kg−1 bw). Data indicated that the total LMW-PAH (low molecular weight PAHs) group (120.22, 121.34, 103.69, and 128.79 ng g−1 dw in liver, kidney, skin, and muscle, respectively) in the Tehran samples have higher levels than the other PAHs groups. In addition, the DNA methylation level had negative relation with the total amount of PAHs in liver and kidney. A comparatively higher global DNA hypomethylation (by 8.65% in liver and 3.76% in kidney) was observed in birds exposed to B(a)P. Our results lead us to suggest that DNA hypomethylation in liver and kidney associated with the B(a)P may be useful biomarker discovery (more than the amount of PAH concentration in different tissues of C. livia) in urban areas. In conclusion, based on the overall results assessed, DNA methylation changes in pigeon may show a new target pathway for evaluation of environmental health.


PAHs Benzo[a]pyrene Global DNA methylation Sentinel species Rock pigeon Megacity 



Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons


Persistent organic pollutants




Cytosine positions immediately followed by a guanine


Body weight



This article is from Ph.D thesis of Tarbiat Modares University. Also, we are cordially thankful to Mrs. Manzar Haghdoust (Technical Assistant of Environmental Laboratory), Mrs. Roxana Bayati, and Dr. Jafar Seyfabadi for final editing of the English text.

Funding information

This work was financially supported by the Tarbiat Modares University, Ministry of Science and National Science Foundation (grant number 152_D_2154:95/06/07).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hamoun International Wetland Research InstituteUniversity of ZabolZabolIran
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Natural ResourcesTarbiat Modares UniversityNoorIran
  3. 3.Department of Marine Biology, Faculty of Marine SciencesTarbiat Modares UniversityNoorIran

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