δ-Aminolevulinic acid dehydratase single nucleotide polymorphism 2 (ALAD2) and peptide transporter 2*2 haplotype (hPEPT2*2) differently influence neurobehavior in low-level lead exposed children

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Delta-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase single nucleotide polymorphism 2 (ALAD2) and peptide transporter haplotype 2*2 (hPEPT2*2) through different pathways can increase brain levels of delta-aminolevulinic acid and are associated with higher blood lead burden in young children. Past child and adult findings regarding ALAD2 and neurobehavior have been inconsistent, and the possible association of hPEPT2*2 and neurobehavior has not yet been examined. Mean blood lead level (BLL), genotype, and neurobehavioral function (fine motor dexterity, working memory, visual attention and short-term memory) were assessed in 206 males and 215 females ages 5.1–11.8 years. Ninety-six percent of children had BLLs < 5.0 μg/dl. After adjusting for covariates (sex, age and mother's level of education) and sibling exclusion (N = 252), generalized linear mixed model analyses showed opposite effects for the ALAD2 and hPEPT2*2 genetic variants. Significant effects for ALAD2 were observed only as interactions with BLL and the results suggested that ALAD2 was neuroprotective. As BLL increased, ALAD2 was associated with enhanced visual attention and enhanced working memory (fewer commission errors). Independent of BLL, hPEPT2*2 predicted poorer motor dexterity and poorer working memory (more commission errors). BLL alone predicted poorer working memory from increased omission errors. The findings provided further substantiation that (independent of the genetic variants examined) lowest-level lead exposure disrupted early neurobehavioral function, and suggested that common genetic variants alter the neurotoxic potential of low-level lead. ALAD2and hPEPT2*2 may be valuable markers of risk, and indicate novel mechanisms of lead-induced neurotoxicity. Longitudinal studies are needed to examine long-term influences of these genetic variants on neurobehavior.