Background: Exposure to mercury (Hg) is associated with adverse developmental effects. However, Hg occurs with a multitude of chemicals. We assessed the associations of developmental exposure to multiple pollutants with children's neurodevelopment using a novel approach.
Methods: Hg, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and perfluoroalkyl substances were measured in maternal and children's blood at 5-years (n=449 and 419). At 7-years, children were administered Boston Naming Test (BNT) and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). We used the G-formula combined with SuperLearner to estimate independent and joint effects of chemicals at both ages. We constructed flexible exposure-response relationships and assessed interactions.
Results: Most chemicals showed negative relationships with BNT scores. An inter-quartile range (IQR) increase in maternal Hg and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was associated with 0.15 standard deviation [SD] (95% Confidence Interval [CI]: -0.29,-0.03) and 0.14 SD (95%CI: -0.26,-0.05) lower scores in BNT, whereas a joint IQR increase in the mixture of chemicals was associated with 0.48 SD (95%CI: -0.69,-0.25) lower scores in BNT. An IQR increase in PFOA was associated with 0.11 SD (95%CI: 0.02,0.26) higher total SDQ difficulties scores. Maternal ∑PCBs concentrations were associated with lower SDQ scores (β=-0.09 SD; 95%CI: -0.19,0), whereas 5-years ∑PCBs showed a negative association (β=-0.09 SD; 95%CI: -0.21,0). Finally, a joint IQR increase in the mixture was associated with 0.22 SD (95%CI: 0.04,0.4) higher SDQ scores.
Conclusions: Using a novel statistical approach, we confirmed associations between prenatal mercury exposure and lower cognitive function. The potential developmental effects of PFASs need additional attention.
The association between particulate pollution and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality is well established. While the cardiovascular effects of nationally regulated criteria pollutants (e.g., fine particulate matter [PM2.5] and nitrogen dioxide) have been well documented, there are fewer studies on particulate pollutants that are more specific for traffic, such as black carbon (BC) and particle number (PN). In this paper, we synthesized studies conducted in the Greater Boston Area on cardiovascular health effects of traffic exposure, specifically defined by BC or PN exposure or proximity to major roadways. Large cohort studies demonstrate that exposure to traffic-related particles adversely affect cardiac autonomic function, increase systemic cytokine-mediated inflammation and pro-thrombotic activity, and elevate the risk of hypertension and ischemic stroke. Key patterns emerged when directly comparing studies with overlapping exposure metrics and population cohorts. Most notably, cardiovascular risk estimates of PN and BC exposures were larger in magnitude or more often statistically significant compared to those of PM2.5 exposures. Across multiple exposure metrics (e.g., short-term vs. long-term; observed vs. modeled) and different population cohorts (e.g., elderly, individuals with co-morbidities, young healthy individuals), there is compelling evidence that BC and PN represent traffic-related particles that are especially harmful to cardiovascular health. Further research is needed to validate these findings in other geographic locations, characterize exposure errors associated with using monitored and modeled traffic pollutant levels, and elucidate pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the cardiovascular effects of traffic-related particulate pollutants. Implications: Traffic emissions are an important source of particles harmful to cardiovascular health. Traffic-related particles, specifically BC and PN, adversely affect cardiac autonomic function, increase systemic inflammation and thrombotic activity, elevate BP, and increase the risk of ischemic stroke. There is evidence that BC and PN are associated with greater cardiovascular risk compared to PM2.5. Further research is needed to elucidate other health effects of traffic-related particles and assess the feasibility of regulating BC and PN or their regional and local sources.
The field of environmental health has been dominated by modeling associations, especially by regressing an observed outcome on a linear or nonlinear function of observed covariates. Readers interested in advances in policies for improving environmental health are, however, expecting to be informed about health effects resulting from, or more explicitly caused by, environmental exposures. The quantification of health impacts resulting from the removal of environmental exposures involves causal statements. Therefore, when possible, causal inference frameworks should be considered for analyzing the effects of environmental exposures on health outcomes.
An integrated exposomic view of the relation between environment and cardiovascular health should consider the effects of both air and non-air related environmental stressors. Cardiovascular impacts of ambient air temperature, indoor and outdoor air pollution were recently reviewed. We aim, in this second part, to address the cardiovascular effects of noise, food pollutants, radiation, and some other emerging environmental factors. Road traffic noise exposure is associated with increased risk of premature arteriosclerosis, coronary artery disease, and stroke. Numerous studies report an increased prevalence of hypertension in people exposed to noise, especially while sleeping. Sleep disturbances generated by nocturnal noise are followed by a neuroendocrine stress response. Some oxidative and inflammatory endothelial reactions are observed during experimental session of noise exposure. Moreover, throughout the alimentation, the cardiovascular system is exposed to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) as dioxins or pesticides, and plastic associated chemicals (PACs), such as bisphenol A. Epidemiological studies show positive associations of exposures to POPs and PACs with diabetes, arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular disease incidence. POPs and PACS share some abilities to interact with nuclear receptors activating different pathways leading to oxidative stress, insulin resistance and angiotensin potentiation. Regarding radiation, survivors of nuclear explosion have an excess risk of cardiovascular disease. Dose-effect relationships remain debated, but an increased cardiovascular risk at low dose of radiation exposure may be of concern. Some emerging environmental factors like electromagnetic fields, greenspace and light exposure may also require further attention. Non-air related environmental stressors also play an important role in the burden of cardiovascular disease. Specific methodologies should be developed to assess the interactions between air and non-air related pollutants.
Aging is associated with progressive and site-specific changes in DNA methylation (DNAm). These global changes are captured by DNAm clocks that accurately predict chronological age in humans but relatively little is known about how clocks perform in vitro. Here we culture primary human fibroblasts across the cellular lifespan (~6 months) and use four different DNAm clocks to show that age-related DNAm signatures are conserved and accelerated in vitro. The Skin & Blood clock shows the best linear correlation with chronological time (r = 0.90), including during replicative senescence. Although similar in nature, the rate of epigenetic aging is approximately 62x times faster in cultured cells than in the human body. Consistent with in vivo data, cells aged under hyperglycemic conditions exhibit an approximately three years elevation in baseline DNAm age. Moreover, candidate gene-based analyses further corroborate the conserved but accelerated biological aging process in cultured fibroblasts. Fibroblasts mirror the established DNAm topology of the age-related ELOVL2 gene in human blood and the rapid hypermethylation of its promoter cg16867657, which correlates with a linear decrease in ELOVL2 mRNA levels across the lifespan. Using generalized additive modeling on twelve timepoints across the lifespan, we also show how single CpGs exhibit loci-specific, linear and nonlinear trajectories that reach rates up to -47% (hypomethylation) to +23% (hypermethylation) per month. Together, these high-temporal resolution global, gene-specific, and single CpG data highlight the conserved and accelerated nature of epigenetic aging in cultured fibroblasts, which may constitute a system to evaluate age-modifying interventions across the lifespan.
OBJECTIVES: The prevalence of childhood obesity is significantly higher among racial and/or ethnic minority children in the United States. It is unclear to what extent well-established obesity risk factors in infancy and preschool explain these disparities. Our objective was to decompose racial and/or ethnic disparities in children's weight status according to contributing socioeconomic and behavioral risk factors.
METHODS: We used nationally representative data from ∼10 700 children in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort who were followed from age 9 months through kindergarten entry. We assessed the contribution of socioeconomic factors and maternal, infancy, and early childhood obesity risk factors to racial and/or ethnic disparities in children's BMI z scores by using Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition analyses.
RESULTS: The prevalence of risk factors varied significantly by race and/or ethnicity. African American children had the highest prevalence of risk factors, whereas Asian children had the lowest prevalence. The major contributor to the BMI z score gap was the rate of infant weight gain during the first 9 months of life, which was a strong predictor of BMI z score at kindergarten entry. The rate of infant weight gain accounted for between 14.9% and 70.5% of explained disparities between white children and their racial and/or ethnic minority peers. Gaps in socioeconomic status were another important contributor that explained disparities, especially those between white and Hispanic children. Early childhood risk factors, such as fruit and vegetable consumption and television viewing, played less important roles in explaining racial and/or ethnic differences in children's BMI z scores.
CONCLUSIONS: Differences in rapid infant weight gain contribute substantially to racial and/or ethnic disparities in obesity during early childhood. Interventions implemented early in life to target this risk factor could help curb widening racial and/or ethnic disparities in early childhood obesity.
Weather characteristics have been suggested by many social scientists to influence criminality. A recent study suggested that climate change may cause a substantial increase in criminal activities during the twenty-first century. The additional number of crimes due to climate have been ethoroughly discussed the first draft of the paper. Allstimated by associational models, which are not optimal to quantify causal impacts of weather conditions on criminality. Using the Rubin Causal Model and crime data reported daily between 2012 and 2017, this study examines whether changes in heat index, a proxy for apparent temperature, and rainfall occurrence, influence the number of violent crimes in Boston. On average, more crimes are reported on temperate days compared to extremely cold days, and on dry days compared to rainy days. However, no significant differences in the number of crimes between extremely hot days versus less warm days could be observed. The results suggest that weather forecasts could be integrated into crime prevention programs in Boston. The weather-crime relationship should be taken into account when assessing the economic, sociological, or medical impact of climate change. Researchers and policy makers interested in the effects of environmental exposures or policy interventions on crime should consider data analyses conducted with causal inference approaches.
BACKGROUND: Triggers of multiple sclerosis (MS) relapses are essentially unknown. PM10 exposure has recently been associated with an increased risk of relapses.
OBJECTIVES: We further explore the short-term associations between PM10, NO2, benzene (C6H6), O3, and CO exposures, and the odds of MS relapses' occurrence.
METHODS: Using a case-crossover design, we studied 424 MS patients living in the Strasbourg area, France between 2000 and 2009 (1783 relapses in total). Control days were chosen to be ± 35 days relative to the case (relapse) day. Exposure was modeled through ADMS-Urban software at the census block scale. We consider single-pollutant and multi-pollutant conditional logistic regression models coupled with a distributed-lag linear structure, stratified by season ("hot" vs. "cold"), and adjusted for meteorological parameters, pollen count, influenza-like epidemics, and holidays.
RESULTS: The single-pollutant analyses indicated: 1) significant associations between MS relapse incidence and exposures to NO2, PM10, and O3, and 2) seasonality in these associations. For instance, an interquartile range increase in NO2 (lags 0-3) and PM10 exposure were associated with MS relapse incidence (OR = 1.08; 95%CI: [1.03-1.14] and OR = 1.06; 95%CI: [1.01-1.11], respectively) during the "cold" season (i.e., October-March). We also observed an association with O3 and MS relapse incidence during "hot" season (OR = 1.16; 95%CI: [1.07-1.25]). C6H6 and CO were not significantly related to MS relapse incidence. However, using multi-pollutant models, only O3 remained significantly associated with the odds of relapse triggering during "hot" season.
CONCLUSION: We observed significant single-pollution associations between the occurrence of MS relapses and exposures to NO2, O3 and PM10, only O3 remained significantly associated with occurrence of MS relapses in the multi-pollutant model.
Air pollution is composed of particulate matter (PM) and gaseous pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide and ozone. PM is classified according to size into coarse particles (PM10), fine particles (PM2.5) and ultrafine particles. We aim to provide an original review of the scientific evidence from epidemiological and experimental studies examining the cardiovascular effects of outdoor air pollution. Pooled epidemiological studies reported that a 10μg/m3 increase in long-term exposure to PM2.5 was associated with an 11% increase in cardiovascular mortality. Increased cardiovascular mortality was also related to long-term and short-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide. Exposure to air pollution and road traffic was associated with an increased risk of arteriosclerosis, as shown by premature aortic and coronary calcification. Short-term increases in air pollution were associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction, stroke and acute heart failure. The risk was increased even when pollutant concentrations were below European standards. Reinforcing the evidence from epidemiological studies, numerous experimental studies demonstrated that air pollution promotes a systemic vascular oxidative stress reaction. Radical oxygen species induce endothelial dysfunction, monocyte activation and some proatherogenic changes in lipoproteins, which initiate plaque formation. Furthermore, air pollution favours thrombus formation, because of an increase in coagulation factors and platelet activation. Experimental studies also indicate that some pollutants have more harmful cardiovascular effects, such as combustion-derived PM2.5 and ultrafine particles. Air pollution is a major contributor to cardiovascular diseases. Promotion of safer air quality appears to be a new challenge in cardiovascular disease prevention.
Recent studies have reported robust associations of long-term PM2.5 exposure with DNA methylation-based measures of aging; yet, the molecular implications of these relationships remain poorly understood. We evaluated if genetic variation in 3 biological pathways implicated in PM2.5-related disease-oxidative stress, endothelial function, and metal processing-could modify the effect of PM2.5 on DNAm-age, one prominent DNA methylation-based measure of biological age. This analysis was based on 552 individuals from the Normative Aging Study with at least one visit between 2000 and 2011 (n = 940 visits). A genetic-score approach was used to calculate aging-risk variant scores for endothelial function, oxidative stress, and metal processing pathways. One-year PM2.5 and PM2.5 component (sulfate and ammonium) levels at participants' addresses were estimated using the GEOS-chem transport model. Blood DNAm-age was calculated using CpG sites on the Illumina HumanMethylation450 BeadChip. In fully-adjusted linear mixed-effects models, the effects of sulfate on DNAm-age (in years) were greater in individuals with high aging-risk endothelial function variant scores when compared with individuals with low aging-risk endothelial function variant scores (Pinteraction = 0.0007; βHigh = 1.09, 95% CIHigh: 0.70, 1.48; βLow = 0.40, 95% CILow: 0.14, 0.67). Similar trends were observed in fully adjusted models of ammonium and total PM2.5 alone. No effect modification was observed by oxidative stress and metal processing variant scores. Secondary analyses revealed significant associations of serum endothelial markers, intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (β = 0.01, 95% CI: 0.002, 0.012) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (β = 0.002, 95% CI: 0.0005, 0.0026), with DNAm-age. Our results add novel evidence that endothelial physiology may be important to DNAm-age relationships, but further research is required to establish their generalizability.
BACKGROUND: Although many time-series studies have established associations of daily pollution variations with daily deaths, there are fewer at low concentrations, or focused on locally generated pollution, which is becoming more important as regulations reduce regional transport. Causal modeling approaches are also lacking.
OBJECTIVE: We used causal modeling to estimate the impact of local air pollution on mortality at low concentrations.
METHODS: Using an instrumental variable approach, we developed an instrument for variations in local pollution concentrations that is unlikely to be correlated with other causes of death, and examined its association with daily deaths in the Boston, Massachusetts, area. We combined height of the planetary boundary layer and wind speed, which affect concentrations of local emissions, to develop the instrument for particulate matter ≤ 2.5 μm (PM2.5), black carbon (BC), or nitrogen dioxide (NO2) variations that were independent of year, month, and temperature. We also used Granger causality to assess whether omitted variable confounding existed.
RESULTS: We estimated that an interquartile range increase in the instrument for local PM2.5 was associated with a 0.90% increase in daily deaths (95% CI: 0.25, 1.56). A similar result was found for BC, and a weaker association with NO2. The Granger test found no evidence of omitted variable confounding for the instrument. A separate test confirmed the instrument was not associated with mortality independent of pollution. Furthermore, the association remained when all days with PM2.5 concentrations > 30 μg/m3 were excluded from the analysis (0.84% increase in daily deaths; 95% CI: 0.19, 1.50).
CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that there is a causal association of local air pollution with daily deaths at concentrations below U.S. EPA standards. The estimated attributable risk in Boston exceeded 1,800 deaths during the study period, indicating that important public health benefits can follow from further control efforts. Citation: Schwartz J, Bind MA, Koutrakis P. 2017. Estimating causal effects of local air pollution on daily deaths: effect of low levels. Environ Health Perspect 125:23-29; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/EHP232.
Mediation analysis has mostly been conducted with mean regression models. With this approach modeling means, formulae for direct and indirect effects are based on changes in means, which may not capture effects that occur in units at the tails of mediator and outcome distributions. Individuals with extreme values of medical endpoints are often more susceptible to disease and can be missed if one investigates mean changes only. We derive the controlled direct and indirect effects of an exposure along percentiles of the mediator and outcome using quantile regression models and a causal framework. The quantile regression models can accommodate an exposure-mediator interaction and random intercepts to allow for longitudinal mediator and outcome. Because DNA methylation acts as a complex "switch" to control gene expression and fibrinogen is a cardiovascular factor, individuals with extreme levels of these markers may be more susceptible to air pollution. We therefore apply this methodology to environmental data to estimate the effect of air pollution, as measured by particle number, on fibrinogen levels through a change in interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) methylation. We estimate the controlled direct effect of air pollution on the qth percentile of fibrinogen and its indirect effect through a change in the pth percentile of IFN-γ methylation. We found evidence of a direct effect of particle number on the upper tail of the fibrinogen distribution. We observed a suggestive indirect effect of particle number on the upper tail of the fibrinogen distribution through a change in the lower percentiles of the IFN-γ methylation distribution.
Mediation analysis is a valuable approach to examine pathways in epidemiological research. Prospective cohort studies are often conducted to study biological mechanisms and often collect longitudinal measurements on each participant. Mediation formulae for longitudinal data have been developed. Here, we formalize the natural direct and indirect effects using a causal framework with potential outcomes that allows for an interaction between the exposure and the mediator. To allow different types of longitudinal measures of the mediator and outcome, we assume two generalized mixed-effects models for both the mediator and the outcome. The model for the mediator has subject-specific random intercepts and random exposure slopes for each cluster, and the outcome model has random intercepts and random slopes for the exposure, the mediator, and their interaction. We also expand our approach to settings with multiple mediators and derive the mediated effects, jointly through all mediators. Our method requires the absence of time-varying confounding with respect to the exposure and the mediator. This assumption is achieved in settings with exogenous exposure and mediator, especially when exposure and mediator are not affected by variables measured at earlier time points. We apply the methodology to data from the Normative Aging Study and estimate the direct and indirect effects, via DNA methylation, of air pollution, and temperature on intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) protein levels. Our results suggest that air pollution and temperature have a direct effect on ICAM-1 protein levels (i.e. not through a change in ICAM-1 DNA methylation) and that temperature has an indirect effect via a change in ICAM-1 DNA methylation.
Temperature has been related to mean differences in DNA methylation. However, heterogeneity in these associations may exist across the distribution of methylation outcomes. This study examined whether the association between three-week averaged of temperature and methylation differs across quantiles of the methylation distributions in nine candidate genes. We measured gene-specific blood methylation repeatedly in 777 elderly men participating in the Normative Aging Study (1999-2010). We fit quantile regressions for longitudinal data to investigate whether the associations of temperature on methylation (expressed as %5mC) varied across the distribution of the methylation outcomes. We observed heterogeneity in the associations of temperature across percentiles of methylation in F3, TLR-2, CRAT, iNOS, and ICAM-1 genes. For instance, an increase in three-week temperature exposure was associated with a longer left-tail of the F3 methylation distribution. A 5°C increase in temperature was associated with a 0.15%5mC (95% confidence interval (CI): -0.27,-0.04) decrease on the 20th quantile of F3 methylation, but was not significantly related to the 80th quantile of this distribution (Estimate:0.06%5mC, 95%CI: -0.22, 0.35). Individuals with low values of F3, TLR-2, CRAT, and iNOS methylation, as well as a high value of ICAM-1 methylation, may be more susceptible to temperature effects on systemic inflammation.
Studies have found associations between PM2.5 and cardiovascular events. The role of different components of PM2.5 is not well understood. We used linear mixed-effects models with the adaptive LASSO penalty to select PM2.5 species and source(s), separately, that may be associated with markers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction, with adjustment for age, obesity, smoking, statin use, diabetes mellitus, temperature, and season as fixed effects in a large longitudinal cohort of elderly men. We also analyzed these associations with source apportionment models and examined genetic pathway-air pollution interactions within three relevant pathways (oxidative stress, metal processing, and endothelial function). We found that independent of PM2.5 mass vanadium (V) was associated with intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1). An IQR increase (3.2 ng/m(3)) in 2-day moving average V was associated with a 2.5% (95% CI: 1.2-3.8%) change in ICAM-1 and a 3.9% (95% CI: 2.2-5.7%) change in VCAM-1, respectively. In addition, an oil combustion source rich in V was linked to these adhesion molecules. People with higher allelic risk profiles related to oxidative stress may have greater associations (P-value of interaction=0.11). Our findings suggest that particles derived from oil combustion may be associated with inflammation and endothelial dysfunction, and it is likely that oxidative stress plays a role in the associations.
BACKGROUND: It is unknown if ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is associated with lower renal function, a cardiovascular risk factor.
OBJECTIVE: We investigated whether long-term PM2.5 exposure was associated with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) in a cohort of older men living in the Boston Metropolitan area.
METHODS: This longitudinal analysis included 669 participants from the Veterans Administration Normative Aging Study with up to four visits between 2000 and 2011 (n = 1,715 visits). Serum creatinine was measured at each visit, and eGFR was calculated according to the Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemiology Collaboration equation. One-year exposure to PM2.5 prior to each visit was assessed using a validated spatiotemporal model that utilized satellite remote-sensing aerosol optical depth data. eGFR was modeled in a time-varying linear mixed-effects regression model as a continuous function of 1-year PM2.5, adjusting for important covariates.
RESULTS: One-year PM2.5 exposure was associated with lower eGFRs; a 2.1-μg/m3 interquartile range higher 1-year PM2.5 was associated with a 1.87 mL/min/1.73 m2 lower eGFR [95% confidence interval (CI): -2.99, -0.76]. A 2.1 μg/m3-higher 1-year PM2.5 was also associated with an additional annual decrease in eGFR of 0.60 mL/min/1.73 m2 per year (95% CI: -0.79, -0.40).
CONCLUSIONS: In this longitudinal sample of older men, the findings supported the hypothesis that long-term PM2.5 exposure negatively affects renal function and increases renal function decline.
CITATION: Mehta AJ, Zanobetti A, Bind MC, Kloog I, Koutrakis P, Sparrow D, Vokonas PS, Schwartz JD. 2016. Long-term exposure to ambient fine particulate matter and renal function in older men: the VA Normative Aging Study. Environ Health Perspect 124:1353-1360; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1510269.
BACKGROUND: Among nondiabetic individuals, higher fasting blood glucose (FBG) independently predicts diabetes risk, cardiovascular disease, and dementia. Ambient PM2.5 (particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 μm) is an emerging determinant of glucose dysregulation. PM2.5 effects and mechanisms are understudied among nondiabetic individuals.
OBJECTIVES: Our goals were to investigate whether PM2.5 is associated with an increase in FBG and to explore potential mediating roles of epigenetic gene regulation.
METHODS: In 551 nondiabetic participants in the Normative Aging Study, we measured FBG, and DNA methylation of four inflammatory genes (IFN-γ, IL-6, ICAM-1, and TLR-2), up to four times between 2000 and 2011 (median = 2). We estimated short- and medium-term (1-, 7-, and 28-day preceding each clinical visit) ambient PM2.5 at each participant's address using a validated hybrid land-use regression satellite-based model. We fitted covariate-adjusted regression models accounting for repeated measures.
RESULTS: Mean FBG was 99.8 mg/dL (SD = 10.7), 18% of the participants had impaired fasting glucose (IFG; i.e., 100-125 mg/dL FBG) at first visit. Interquartile increases in 1-, 7-, and 28-day PM2.5 were associated with 0.57 mg/dL (95% CI: 0.02, 1.11, p = 0.04), 1.02 mg/dL (95% CI: 0.41, 1.63, p = 0.001), and 0.89 mg/dL (95% CI: 0.32, 1.47, p = 0.003) higher FBG, respectively. The same PM2.5 metrics were associated with 13% (95% CI: -3%, 33%, p = 0.12), 27% (95% CI: 6%, 52%, p = 0.01) and 32% (95% CI: 10%, 58%, p = 0.003) higher odds of IFG, respectively. PM2.5 was negatively correlated with ICAM-1 methylation (p = 0.01), but not with other genes. Mediation analysis estimated that ICAM-1 methylation mediated 9% of the association of 28-day PM2.5 with FBG.
CONCLUSIONS: Among nondiabetics, short- and medium-term PM2.5 were associated with higher FBG. Mediation analysis indicated that part of this association was mediated by ICAM-1 promoter methylation. Citation: Peng C, Bind MA, Colicino E, Kloog I, Byun HM, Cantone L, Trevisi L, Zhong J, Brennan K, Dereix AE, Vokonas PS, Coull BA, Schwartz JD, Baccarelli AA. 2016. Particulate air pollution and fasting blood glucose in nondiabetic individuals: associations and epigenetic mediation in the Normative Aging Study, 2000-2011. Environ Health Perspect 124:1715-1721; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/EHP183.
BACKGROUND: Previous studies have observed associations between air pollution and heart disease. Susceptibility to air pollution effects has been examined mostly with a test of effect modification, but little evidence is available whether air pollution distorts cardiovascular risk factor distribution.
OBJECTIVES: This paper aims to examine distributional and heterogeneous effects of air pollution on known cardiovascular biomarkers.
METHODS: A total of 1,112 men from the Normative Aging Study and residents of the greater Boston, Massachusetts, area with mean age of 69 years at baseline were included in this study during the period 1995-2013. We used quantile regression and random slope models to investigate distributional effects and heterogeneity in the traffic-related responses on blood pressure, heart rate variability, repolarization, lipids, and inflammation. We considered 28-day averaged exposure to particle number, PM2.5 black carbon, and PM2.5 mass concentrations (measured at a single monitor near the site of the study visits).
RESULTS: We observed some evidence suggesting distributional effects of traffic-related pollutants on systolic blood pressure, heart rate variability, corrected QT interval, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglyceride, and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1). For example, among participants with LDL cholesterol below 80 mg/dL, an interquartile range increase in PM2.5 black carbon exposure was associated with a 7-mg/dL (95% CI: 5, 10) increase in LDL cholesterol, while among subjects with LDL cholesterol levels close to 160 mg/dL, the same exposure was related to a 16-mg/dL (95% CI: 13, 20) increase in LDL cholesterol. We observed similar heterogeneous associations across low versus high percentiles of the LDL distribution for PM2.5 mass and particle number.
CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that air pollution distorts the distribution of cardiovascular risk factors, and that, for several outcomes, effects may be greatest among individuals who are already at high risk.
CITATION: Bind MA, Peters A, Koutrakis P, Coull B, Vokonas P, Schwartz J. 2016. Quantile regression analysis of the distributional effects of air pollution on blood pressure, heart rate variability, blood lipids, and biomarkers of inflammation in elderly American men: the Normative Aging Study. Environ Health Perspect 124:1189-1198; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1510044.
Joel Schwartz, Petros Koutrakis, and Marie-Abèle Bind. 2016. “Three Authors Reply.” Am J Epidemiol, 183, 6, Pp. 595-6.
BACKGROUND: Exposure to black carbon (BC), a tracer of vehicular-traffic pollution, is associated with increased blood pressure (BP). Identifying biological factors that attenuate BC effects on BP can inform prevention. We evaluated the role of mitochondrial abundance, an adaptive mechanism compensating for cellular-redox imbalance, in the BC-BP relationship.
METHODS AND RESULTS: At ≥ 1 visits among 675 older men from the Normative Aging Study (observations=1252), we assessed daily BP and ambient BC levels from a stationary monitor. To determine blood mitochondrial abundance, we used whole blood to analyze mitochondrial-to-nuclear DNA ratio (mtDNA/nDNA) using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Every standard deviation increase in the 28-day BC moving average was associated with 1.97 mm Hg (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.23-2.72; P<0.0001) and 3.46 mm Hg (95% CI, 2.06-4.87; P<0.0001) higher diastolic and systolic BP, respectively. Positive BC-BP associations existed throughout all time windows. BC moving averages (5-day to 28-day) were associated with increased mtDNA/nDNA; every standard deviation increase in 28-day BC moving average was associated with 0.12 standard deviation (95% CI, 0.03-0.20; P=0.007) higher mtDNA/nDNA. High mtDNA/nDNA significantly attenuated the BC-systolic BP association throughout all time windows. The estimated effect of 28-day BC moving average on systolic BP was 1.95-fold larger for individuals at the lowest mtDNA/nDNA quartile midpoint (4.68 mm Hg; 95% CI, 3.03-6.33; P<0.0001), in comparison with the top quartile midpoint (2.40 mm Hg; 95% CI, 0.81-3.99; P=0.003).
CONCLUSIONS: In older adults, short-term to moderate-term ambient BC levels were associated with increased BP and blood mitochondrial abundance. Our findings indicate that increased blood mitochondrial abundance is a compensatory response and attenuates the cardiac effects of BC.