Many metals exhibit genotoxic and/or carcinogenic effects. These toxic metals can be found ubiquitously – in drinking water, food, air, general use products, in everyday and occupational settings. Exposure to such carcinogenic metals can result in serious health disorders, including cancer. Arsenic, cadmium, chromium, nickel, and their compounds have already been recognized as carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. This review summarizes a wide range of epigenetic mechanisms contributing to carcinogenesis induced by these metals, primarily including, but not limited to, DNA methylation, miRNA regulation, and histone posttranslational modifications. The mechanisms are described and discussed both from a metal-centric and a mechanism-centric standpoint. The review takes a broad perspective, putting the mechanisms in the context of real-life exposure, and aims to assist in guiding future research, particularly with respect to the assessment and control of exposure to carcinogenic metals and novel therapy development.
- DNA methylation
- Histone modification