Fluoride Action Network



  • RUNX2 promotor methylation is positively related to excessive fluoride (F) exposure.
  • Bone mineral density (BMD) is negatively related to excessive F exposure in women.
  • BMD is negatively associated with RUNX2 promotor methylation in women.
  • RUNX2 methylation mediates the association of excessive F exposure and BMD in women.

Bone mineral density (BMD) changes were reported to be associated with excessive fluoride exposure and abnormal expression of RUNX2. However, whether the alteration of methylation status, a most commonly used marker for the alteration of gene expression in epidemiological investigation, of RUNX2 is associated with low-to-moderate fluoride exposure and BMD changes has not been reported. Our study aims to explore the role of RUNX2 promoter methylation in BMD changes induced by low-to-moderate fluoride exposure. A total of 1124 adults (413 men and 711 women) were recruited from Kaifeng City in 2017. We measured BMD using ultrasound bone densitometer. Concentrations of urinary fluoride (UF) were measured using ion-selective electrode, and the participants were grouped into control group (CG) and excessive fluoride group (EFG) according to the concentration of UF. We extracted DNA from fasting peripheral blood samples and then detected the promoter methylation levels of RUNX2 using quantitative methylation-specific PCR. Relationships between UF concentration, RUNX2 promoter methylation and BMD changes were analyzed using generalized linear model and logistic regression. Results showed in EFG (UF concentration > 1.6 mg/L), BMD was negatively correlated with UF concentration B: -0.14; 95%CI: -0.26, -0.01) and RUNX2 promoter methylation (B: -0.13; 95%CI: -0.22, -0.03) in women. The methylation rate of RUNX2 promoter increased by 2.16% for each 1 mg/L increment in UF concentration of women in EFG (95%CI: 0.37, 3.96). No any significant associations between UF concentration, RUNX2 promoter methylation, and BMD were observed in the individuals in CG. Mediation analysis showed that RUNX2 promoter methylation mediated 18.2% (95% CI: 4.2%, 53.2%) of the association between UF concentration and BMD of women in EFG. In conclusion, excessive fluoride exposure (>1.6 mg/L) is associated with changes of BMD in women, and this association is mediated by RUNX2 promoter methylation.