Exposure to ambient air pollutants increases risk for cardiovascular health outcomes in adults. The contribution of childhood air pollutant exposure to cardiovascular health has not been thoroughly evaluated.
Methods and results
The Testing Responses on Youth study consists of 861 college students recruited from the University of Southern California in 2007–2009. Participants attended one study visit during which blood pressure, heart rate and carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) were assessed. Self-administered questionnaires collected information about health and socio-demographic characteristics and a 12-hr fasting blood sample was drawn for lipid and biomarker analyses. Residential addresses were geocoded and used to assign cumulative air pollutant exposure estimates based on data derived from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality System (AQS) database. The associations between CIMT and air pollutants were assessed using linear regression analysis. Mean CIMT was 603 μm (± 54 SD). A 2 standard deviation (SD) increase in childhood (aged 0–5 years) or elementary school (aged 6–12) O3 exposure was associated with a 7.8 μm (95% CI −0.3, 15.9) or 10.1 μm (95% CI 1.8, 18.5) higher CIMT, respectively. Lifetime exposure to O3 showed similar but non-significant associations. No associations were observed for PM2.5, PM10 or NO2 although adjustment for these pollutants strengthened the childhood O3 associations.
Childhood exposure to O3 may be a novel risk factor for CIMT in a healthy population of college students. Regulation of air pollutants and efforts that focus on limiting childhood exposures continue to be important public health goals.
atherosclerosis; cardiovascular diseases; carotid arteries; epidemiology; pediatrics
Rationale: Emerging evidence indicates that psychosocial stress enhances the effect of traffic exposure on the development of asthma.
Objectives: We hypothesized that psychosocial stress would also modify the effect of traffic exposure on lung function deficits.
Methods: We studied 1,399 participants in the Southern California Children's Health Study undergoing lung function testing (mean age, 11.2 yr). We used hierarchical mixed models to assess the joint effect of traffic-related air pollution and stress on lung function.
Measurements and Main Results: Psychosocial stress in each child's household was assessed based on parental response to the perceived stress scale (range, 0–16) at study entry. Exposures to nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and total oxides of nitrogen (NOx), surrogates of the traffic-related pollution mixture, were estimated at schools and residences based on a land-use regression model. Among children from high-stress households (parental perceived stress scale >4) deficits in FEV1 of 4.5 (95% confidence interval, −6.5 to −2.4) and of 2.8% (−5.7 to 0.3) were associated with each 21.8 ppb increase in NOx at homes and schools, respectively. These pollutant effects were significantly larger in the high-stress compared with lower-stress households (interaction P value 0.007 and 0.05 for residential and school NOx, respectively). No significant NOx effects were observed in children from low-stress households. A similar pattern of association was observed for FVC. The observed associations for FEV1 and FVC remained after adjusting for sociodemographic factors and after restricting the analysis to children who do not have asthma.
Conclusions: A high-stress home environment is associated with increased susceptibility to lung function effects of air pollution both at home and at school.
parental stress; traffic exposure; lung function; children
Racial/ethnic differences in common carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) and in risk factors associated with CIMT have been predominantly observed in middle-aged and older individuals. We aimed to characterize racial/ethnic differences CIMT and other cardiovascular risk factors in a healthy, young-adult population.
College students were recruited as part of a study to characterize determinants of atherogenesis. Students were eligible if they were lifetime non-smokers, lived in the United States since six months of age, and attended high school in the United States. Blood pressure, heart rate, height, and weight were measured, B-mode carotid ultrasound was performed, questionnaires were administered and a 12-hr fasting blood sample was collected. Associations between CIMT and other variables were assessed in 768 students aged 18 to 25 years using linear regression analysis.
In models adjusted for common cardiovascular risk factors, sex exhibited the strongest influence on CIMT, with men having 15.4 µm larger CIMT compared to women (95%CI 6.6, 24.2). Race/ethnicity was also strongly associated with CIMT. African Americans had 17.3 µm greater CIMT (95% CI −0.3, 34.8) compared to non Hispanic Whites, whereas Asians and Hispanic Whites had 14.3 (95%CI −24.3, −4.4) and 15.4 (95%CI −26.2, −4.7) µm smaller CIMT, respectively. BMI and systolic blood pressure were positively associated with CIMT.
The risk factors associated with atherogenesis later in life are already present and observable in college-aged young adults, so targeted campaigns to reduce life-long cardiovascular disease burden should be initiated earlier in life to improve public health.
CIMT; SBP; race; ethnicity; young adults
Exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) is a biomarker of airway inflammation. In the nitric oxide (NO) synthesis pathway, nitric oxide synthases (encoded by NOS1, NOS2A and NOS3) and arginases (encoded by ARG1 and ARG2) compete for L-arginine. Although FeNO levels are higher in children with asthma/allergy, influence of these conditions on the relationships between variations in these genes and FeNO remains unknown. The aims of the study were to evaluate the role of genetic variations in nitric oxide synthases and arginases on FeNO in children and to assess the influence of asthma and respiratory allergy on these genetic associations.
Among children (6–11 years) who participated in the southern California Children’s Health Study, variations in these five genetic loci were characterized by tagSNPs. FeNO was measured in two consecutive years (N = 2298 and 2515 in Years 1 and 2, respectively). Repeated measures analysis of variance was used to evaluate the associations between these genetic variants and FeNO.
Sequence variations in the NOS2A and ARG2 loci were globally associated with FeNO (P = 0.0002 and 0.01, respectively). The ARG2 association was tagged by intronic variant rs3742879 with stronger association with FeNO in asthmatic children (P-interaction = 0.01). The association of a NOS2A promoter haplotype with FeNO varied significantly by rs3742879 genotypes and by asthma.
Variants in the NO synthesis pathway genes jointly contribute to differences in FeNO concentrations. Some of these genetic influences were stronger in children with asthma. Further studies are required to confirm our findings.
airway inflammation; asthma; biomarker; exhaled nitric oxide; nitrosative stress
The interrelationships between air pollution, lung function and the incidence of childhood asthma have yet to be established. A study was undertaken to determine whether lung function is associated with new onset asthma and whether this relationship varies by exposure to ambient air pollutants.
A cohort of children aged 9–10 years without asthma or wheeze at study entry were identified from the Children's Health Study and followed for 8 years. The participants resided in 12 communities with a wide range of ambient air pollutants that were measured continuously. Spirometric testing was performed and a medical diagnosis of asthma was ascertained annually. Proportional hazard regression models were fitted to investigate the relationship between lung function at study entry and the subsequent development of asthma and to determine whether air pollutants modify these associations.
The level of airway flow was associated with new onset asthma. Over the 10th–90th percentile range of forced expiratory flow over the mid‐range of expiration (FEF25–75, 57.1%), the hazard ratio (HR) of new onset asthma was 0.50 (95% CI 0.35 to 0.71). This protective effect of better lung function was reduced in children exposed to higher levels of particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter <2.5 μm (PM2.5). Over the 10th–90th percentile range of FEF25–75, the HR of new onset asthma was 0.34 (95% CI 0.21 to 0.56) in communities with low PM2.5 (<13.7 μg/m3) and 0.76 (95% CI 0.45 to 1.26) in communities with high PM2.5 (⩾13.7 μg/m3). A similar pattern was observed for forced expiratory volume in 1 s. Little variation in HR was observed for ozone.
Exposure to high levels of PM2.5 attenuates the protective effect of better lung function against new onset asthma.
Arginases (encoded by ARG1 and ARG2 genes) may play an important role in asthma pathogenesis through effects on nitrosative stress. Arginase expression is upregulated in asthma and varies with T helper type-2 cytokine levels and oxidative stress.
We aimed to examine whether variants in these genes are associated with asthma, and whether atopy, and exposures to smoking and air pollution influence the associations.
Among non-Hispanic and Hispanic white participants of the Children’s Health Study (N=2,946), we characterized variation in each locus (including promoter region) with 6 tagSNPs for ARG1 and 10 for ARG2. Asthma was defined by parental report of physician-diagnosed asthma at study entry.
Both ARG1 and ARG2 genetic loci were significantly associated with asthma (global locus level p-values=0.02 and 0.04, respectively). Compared to the most common haplotype within each locus, one ARG1 haplotype was associated with reduced risk (odds ratio (OR) per haplotype copy=0.55; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.36–0.84) and one ARG2 haplotype was associated with increased risk (OR per haplotype copy=1.35; 95% CI: 1.04–1.76) of asthma. The effect of the ARG1 haplotype that was significantly associated with asthma varied by child’s history of atopy and ambient ozone (Pinteraction=0.04 and 0.02, respectively). Among atopic children living in high ozone communities, those carrying the ARG1 haplotype had reduced asthma risk (OR per haplotype copy=0.12; 95% CI: 0.04–0.43; Pheterogeneity across atopy/ozone categories=0.008).
ARG1 and ARG2 loci are associated with childhood asthma. The association between ARG1 variation and asthma may depend on atopy and ambient ozone.
air pollution; asthma genetics; atopy; gene-environment interaction; nitrosative stress
Traffic-related air pollution has been associated with adverse cardiorespiratory effects, including increased asthma prevalence. However, there has been little study of effects of traffic exposure at school on new-onset asthma.
We evaluated the relationship of new-onset asthma with traffic-related pollution near homes and schools.
Parent-reported physician diagnosis of new-onset asthma (n = 120) was identified during 3 years of follow-up of a cohort of 2,497 kindergarten and first-grade children who were asthma- and wheezing-free at study entry into the Southern California Children’s Health Study. We assessed traffic-related pollution exposure based on a line source dispersion model of traffic volume, distance from home and school, and local meteorology. Regional ambient ozone, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and particulate matter were measured continuously at one central site monitor in each of 13 study communities. Hazard ratios (HRs) for new-onset asthma were scaled to the range of ambient central site pollutants and to the residential interquartile range for each traffic exposure metric.
Asthma risk increased with modeled traffic-related pollution exposure from roadways near homes [HR 1.51; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.25–1.82] and near schools (HR 1.45; 95% CI, 1.06–1.98). Ambient NO2 measured at a central site in each community was also associated with increased risk (HR 2.18; 95% CI, 1.18–4.01). In models with both NO2 and modeled traffic exposures, there were independent associations of asthma with traffic-related pollution at school and home, whereas the estimate for NO2 was attenuated (HR 1.37; 95% CI, 0.69–2.71).
Traffic-related pollution exposure at school and homes may both contribute to the development of asthma.
air pollution; asthma; child; epidemiology; vehicular traffic
Rationale: The glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) are important detoxification enzymes.
Objectives: To investigate effects of variants in GST mu genes on lung function and assess their interactions with tobacco smoke exposure.
Methods: In this prospective study, 14,836 lung function measurements were collected from 2,108 children who participated in two Southern California cohorts. For each child, tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms in GSTM2, GSTM3, GSTM4, and GSTM5 loci were genotyped. Using principal components and haplotype analyses, the significance of each locus in relation to level and growth of FEV1, maximum midexpiratory flow rate (MMEF), and FVC was evaluated. Interactions between loci and tobacco smoke on lung function were also investigated.
Measurements and Main Results: Variation in the GST mu family locus was associated with lower FEV1 (P = 0.01) and MMEF (0.04). Two haplotypes of GSTM2 were associated with FEV1 and MMEF, with effect estimates in opposite directions. One haplotype in GSTM3 showed a decrease in growth for MMEF (−164.9 ml/s) compared with individuals with other haplotypes. One haplotype in GSTM4 showed significantly decreased growth in FEV1 (−51.3 ml), MMEF (−69.1 ml/s), and FVC (−44.4 ml), compared with all other haplotypes. These results were consistent across two independent cohorts. Variation in GSTM2 was particularly important for FVC and FEV1 among children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy.
Conclusions: Genetic variation across the GST mu locus is associated with 8-year lung function growth. Children of mothers who smoked during pregnancy and had variation in GSTM2 had lower lung function growth.
FEV1; in utero; glutathione S-transferase; tobacco smoke
Associations between single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the β2-adrenergic receptor gene and asthma and wheeze have been inconsistent. Recent studies indicated that tobacco smoke affects β2-adrenergic receptor gene expression and associations of β2-adrenergic receptor gene variants with asthma in adults. We aimed to investigate the joint effects of in utero and childhood secondhand tobacco smoke exposure and 2 well-characterized functional single-nucleotide polymorphisms (Arg16Gly and Glu27Gln) of β2-adrenergic receptor gene on asthma and wheezing in 3128 non-Hispanic and Hispanic white children of the Children's Health Study.
We fitted logistic regression models to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the independent and joint effects of these single-nucleotide polymorphisms and in utero and secondhand tobacco smoke exposure on asthma and wheeze outcomes.
Exposures to in utero maternal smoking and secondhand tobacco smoke were associated with wheezing. Children who were homozygous for the Arg16 allele and were exposed to maternal smoking in utero were at a threefold increased risk for lifetime wheeze compared with children who were unexposed and had at least 1 Gly16 allele. We found similar joint effects of secondhand tobacco smoke and Arg16Gly with wheezing. The risk for lifetime, current, and nocturnal wheeze increased with the number of smokers at home among Arg16 homozygous children. The results were consistent in 2 cohorts of children recruited in 1993 and 1996. Diplotype-based analyses were consistent with the single-nucleotide polymorphism–specific results. No associations were found for Glu27Gln.
Both in utero and childhood exposure to tobacco smoke were associated with an increased risk for wheeze in children, and the risks were greater for children with the Arg16Arg genotype or 2 copies of the Arg16–Gln27 diplotype. Exposures to smoking need to be taken into account when evaluating the effects of β2-adrenergic receptor gene variants on respiratory health outcomes.
β-2 adrenergic receptor; prenatal exposure; secondhand-smoke exposure; asthma; wheeze
Because asthma has been associated with exercise and ozone exposure, an association likely mediated by oxidative stress, we hypothesized that GSTP1, GSTM1, exercise and ozone exposure have inter-related effects on asthma pathogenesis.
We examined associations of the well characterized null variant of GSTM1 and four SNPs that characterized common variation in GSTP1 with new-onset asthma in a cohort of 1,610 school children. Children’s exercise and ozone-exposure status were classified using participation in team sports and community-specific ozone levels, respectively.
A two SNP model (rs6591255, rs1695 [Ile105Val]) best captured the association between GSTP1 and asthma. Compared to children with common alleles for both the SNPs, the risk of asthma was lower for those with the Val allele of Ile105Val (HR 0.60, 95% CI 0.4, 0.8) and higher for the variant allele of rs6591255 (HR 1.40, 95%CI 1.1–1.9). Asthma risk increased with level of exercise among ile105 homozygotes but not among those with at least one val105 allele (interaction p-value=0.02). Risk was highest among ile105 homozygotes who participated in ≥3 sports in the high-ozone communities (HR: 6.15, 95%CI: 2.2–7.4). GSTM1 null was independently associated with asthma and showed little variation with air pollution or GSTP1 genotype. These results were consistent in two independent fourth-grade cohorts in the study population recruited in 1993 and 1996.
Children who inherit a val105 variant allele may be protected from the increased risk of asthma associated with exercise, especially in high-ozone communities. GSTM1 null genotype was associated with increased risk of asthma.
Oxidative stress; Candidate gene; Asthma genetics; Gene-environmental interaction; Air pollution
Rationale: Although oxidative stress is a cardinal feature of asthma, the roles of oxidant air pollutants and antioxidant genes heme oxygenase 1 (HMOX-1), catalase (CAT), and manganese superoxide dismutase (MNSOD) in asthma pathogenesis have yet to be determined.
Objectives: We hypothesized that the functional polymorphisms of HMOX-1 ([GT]n repeat), CAT (−262C>T −844C>T), and MNSOD (Ala-9Val) are associated with new-onset asthma, and the effects of these variants vary by exposure to ozone, a potent oxidant air pollutant.
Methods: We assessed this hypothesis in a population-based cohort of non-Hispanic (n = 1,125) and Hispanic white (n = 586) children who resided in 12 California communities and who were followed annually for 8 years to ascertain new-onset asthma.
Measurements and Main Results: Air pollutants were continuously measured in each of the study communities during the 8 years of study follow-up. HMOX-1 “short” alleles (<23 repeats) were associated with a reduced risk for new-onset asthma among non-Hispanic whites (hazard ratio [HR], 0.64; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.41–0.99). This protective effect was largest in children residing in low-ozone communities (HR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.25–0.91) (interaction P value = 0.003). Little evidence for an association with HMOX-1 was observed among Hispanic children. In contrast, Hispanic children with a variant of the CAT-262 “T” allele (CT or TT) had an increased risk for asthma (HR, 1.78; P value = 0.01). The effects of these polymorphisms were not modified by personal smoking or secondhand-smoke exposure.
Conclusions: Functional promoter variants in CAT and HMOX-1 showed ethnicity-specific associations with new-onset asthma. Oxidant gene protection was restricted to children living in low-ozone communities.
asthma; catalase; heme oxygenase-1; MnSOD; oxidative stress; ozone
Rationale: Although involuntary exposure to maternal smoking during the in utero period and to secondhand smoke are associated with occurrence of childhood asthma, few studies have investigated the role of active cigarette smoking on asthma onset during adolescence.
Objectives: To determine whether regular smoking is associated with the new onset of asthma during adolescence.
Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study among 2,609 children with no lifetime history of asthma or wheezing who were recruited from fourth- and seventh-grade classrooms and followed annually in schools in 12 southern California communities. Regular smoking was defined as smoking at least seven cigarettes per day on average over the week before and 300 cigarettes in the year before each annual interview. Incident asthma was defined using new cases of physician-diagnosed asthma.
Measurements and Main Results: Regular smoking was associated with increased risk of new-onset asthma. Children who reported smoking 300 or more cigarettes per year had a relative risk (RR) of 3.9 (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.7–8.5) for new-onset asthma compared with nonsmokers. The increased risk from regular smoking was greater in nonallergic than in allergic children. Regular smokers who were exposed to maternal smoking during gestation had the largest risk from active smoking (RR, 8.8; 95% CI, 3.2–24.0).
Conclusions: Regular smoking increased risk for asthma among adolescents, especially for nonallergic adolescents and those exposed to maternal smoking during the in utero period.
asthma; epidemiology; smoking