Persistent Organochlorine Pollutants in Placentas Sampled from Women in Croatia and an Evaluation of Their DNA Damaging Potential In Vitro

  • Davor Želježić
  • Snježana Herceg Romanić
  • Darija Klinčić
  • Marijana Matek Sarić
  • Judita Grzunov Letinić


This study investigated the levels and distribution of 17 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides (HCB, α-HCH, β-HCH, γ-HCH, p,p′-DDE, p,p′-DDD, and p,p′-DDT) in placenta samples from women living in the coastal area of Croatia. During November 2012 to February 2013, 51 placenta samples were collected from healthy mothers. This study presents the first report about Croatian placenta samples. Each of the analysed compounds were found in all of the samples; all of the maximum values were < 1 ng g−1 w.w., and the highest median value found for PCB-28 was 11.2 pg g−1 w.w. PCBs and organochlorine pesticide (OCPs) present in placenta samples were tested for their genotoxic potential using the alkaline comet assay. The alkaline comet assay is one of the most reliable methods in assessing the DNA lesions that occurs in direct interaction of a chemical and the genome. The detected levels of PCBs and OCPs in the placenta did not pose a significant risk to the children’s DNA during embryonic and foetal growth following short-term exposure. PCB and OCP concentrations in the placenta samples did not induce any significant primary damage to DNA in terms of DNA strand breaks and changes in the primary chemical structure, which could be detected by the alkaline comet assay.



This study was supported by the Croatian Science Foundation (Project No. 8366).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Davor Želježić
    • 1
    • 2
  • Snježana Herceg Romanić
    • 1
  • Darija Klinčić
    • 1
  • Marijana Matek Sarić
    • 3
  • Judita Grzunov Letinić
    • 4
  1. 1.Biochemistry and Organic Analytical Chemistry UnitInstitute for Medical Research and Occupational HealthZagrebCroatia
  2. 2.Mutagenesis UnitInstitute for Medical Research and Occupational HealthZagrebCroatia
  3. 3.Department of Health StudiesUniversity of ZadarZadarCroatia
  4. 4.Institute of Public Health ZadarZadarCroatia

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