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1.  Telomere Length in Peripheral Leukocyte DNA and Gastric Cancer Risk 
Telomere length reflects lifetime cumulative oxidative stress from environmental exposures, such as cigarette smoking and chronic inflammation. Shortened telomere length is thought to cause genomic instability and has been associated with several cancers. We examined the association of telomere length in peripheral leukocyte DNA with gastric cancer risk as well as potential confounding factors and risk modifiers for telomere length–related risk. In a population-based study of gastric cancer conducted in a high-risk population in Warsaw, Poland, between 1994 and 1996, we measured relative telomere length in 300 cases and 416 age- and gender-matched controls using quantitative real-time PCR. Among controls, telomeres were significantly shorter in association with aging (P < 0.001), increasing pack-years of cigarette smoking (P = 0.02), decreasing fruit intake (P = 0.04), and Helicobacter pylori positivity (P = 0.03). Gastric cancer cases had significantly shorter telomere length (mean ± SD relative telomere length, 1.25 ± 0.34) than controls (1.34 ± 0.35; P = 0.0008). Gastric cancer risk doubled [odds ratio (OR), 2.04; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 1.33-3.13] among subjects in the shortest compared with the highest quartile of telomere length (Ptrend < 0.001). Telomere length–associated risks were higher among individuals with the lowest risk profile, those H. pylori–negative (OR, 5.45; 95% CI, 2.10-14.1), non-smokers (OR, 3.07; 95% CI, 1.71-5.51), and individuals with high intake of fruits (OR, 2.43; 95% CI, 1.46-4.05) or vegetables (OR, 2.39; 95% CI, 1.51-3.81). Our results suggest that telomere length in peripheral leukocyte DNA was associated with H. pylori positivity, cigarette smoking, and dietary fruit intake. Shortened telomeres increased gastric cancer risk in this high-risk Polish population.
PMCID: PMC2938741  PMID: 19861514
2.  Airborne particulate matter and mitochondrial damage: a cross-sectional study 
Environmental Health  2010;9:48.
Oxidative stress generation is a primary mechanism mediating the effects of Particulate Matter (PM) on human health. Although mitochondria are both the major intracellular source and target of oxidative stress, the effect of PM on mitochondria has never been evaluated in exposed individuals.
In 63 male healthy steel workers from Brescia, Italy, studied between April and May 2006, we evaluated whether exposure to PM was associated with increased mitochondrial DNA copy number (MtDNAcn), an established marker of mitochondria damage and malfunctioning. Relative MtDNAcn (RMtDNAcn) was determined by real-time PCR in blood DNA obtained on the 1st (time 1) and 4th day (time 2) of the same work week. Individual exposures to PM10, PM1, coarse particles (PM10-PM1) and airborne metal components of PM10 (chromium, lead, arsenic, nickel, manganese) were estimated based on measurements in the 11 work areas and time spent by the study subjects in each area.
RMtDNAcn was higher on the 4th day (mean = 1.31; 95%CI = 1.22 to 1.40) than on the 1st day of the work week (mean = 1.09; 95%CI = 1.00 to 1.17). PM exposure was positively associated with RMtDNAcn on either the 4th (PM10: β = 0.06, 95%CI = -0.06 to 0.17; PM1: β = 0.08, 95%CI = -0.08 to 0.23; coarse: β = 0.06, 95%CI = -0.06 to 0.17) or the 1st day (PM10: β = 0.18, 95%CI = 0.09 to 0.26; PM1: β = 0.23, 95%CI = 0.11 to 0.35; coarse: β = 0.17, 95%CI = 0.09 to 0.26). Metal concentrations were not associated with RMtDNAcn.
PM exposure is associated with damaged mitochondria, as reflected in increased MtDNAcn. Damaged mitochondria may intensify oxidative-stress production and effects.
PMCID: PMC2928195  PMID: 20696069
3.  Living Near Major Traffic Roads and Risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis 
Circulation  2009;119(24):3118-3124.
Particulate air pollution has been consistently linked to increased risk of arterial cardiovascular disease. Few data on air pollution exposure and risk of venous thrombosis are available. We investigated whether living near major traffic roads increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), using distance from roads as a proxy for traffic exposure.
Methods and Results
Between 1995-2005, we examined 663 patients with DVT of the lower limbs and 859 age-matched controls from cities with population>15,000 inhabitants in Lombardia Region, Italy. We assessed distance from residential addresses to the nearest major traffic road using geographic information system methodology. The risk of DVT was estimated from logistic regression models adjusting for multiple clinical and environmental covariates.
The risk of DVT was increased (Odds Ratio [OR]=1.33; 95% CI 1.03-1.71; p=0.03 in age-adjusted models; OR=1.47; 95%CI 1.10-1.96; p=0.008 in models adjusted for multiple covariates) for subjects living near a major traffic road (3 meters, 10th centile of the distance distribution) compared to those living farther away (reference distance of 245 meters, 90th centile). The increase in DVT risk was approximately linear over the observed distance range (from 718 to 0 meters), and was not modified after adjusting for background levels of particulate matter (OR=1.47; 95%CI 1.11-1.96; p=0.008 for 10th vs. 90th distance centile in models adjusting for area levels of particulate matter <10 μm in aerodynamic diameter [PM10] in the year before diagnosis).
Living near major traffic roads is associated with increased risk of DVT.
PMCID: PMC2895730  PMID: 19506111
Deep vein thrombosis; air pollution; risk factors; coagulation
4.  Exposure to Metal-Rich Particulate Matter Modifies the Expression of Candidate MicroRNAs in Peripheral Blood Leukocytes 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2010;118(6):763-768.
Altered patterns of gene expression mediate the effects of particulate matter (PM) on human health, but mechanisms through which PM modifies gene expression are largely undetermined. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are highly conserved, noncoding small RNAs that regulate the expression of broad gene networks at the posttranscriptional level.
We evaluated the effects of exposure to PM and PM metal components on candidate miRNAs (miR-222, miR-21, and miR-146a) related with oxidative stress and inflammatory processes in 63 workers at an electric-furnace steel plant.
We measured miR-222, miR-21, and miR-146a expression in blood leukocyte RNA on the first day of a workweek (baseline) and after 3 days of work (postexposure). Relative expression of miRNAs was measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction. We measured blood oxidative stress (8-hydroxyguanine) and estimated individual exposures to PM1 (< 1 μm in aerodynamic diameter), PM10 (< 10 μm in aerodynamic diameter), coarse PM (PM10 minus PM1), and PM metal components (chromium, lead, cadmium, arsenic, nickel, manganese) between the baseline and postexposure measurements.
Expression of miR-222 and miR-21 (using the 2−ΔΔCT method) was significantly increased in postexposure samples (miR-222: baseline = 0.68 ± 3.41, postexposure = 2.16 ± 2.25, p = 0.002; miR-21: baseline = 4.10 ± 3.04, postexposure = 4.66 ± 2.63, p = 0.05). In postexposure samples, miR-222 expression was positively correlated with lead exposure (β = 0.41, p = 0.02), whereas miR-21 expression was associated with blood 8-hydroxyguanine (β = 0.11, p = 0.03) but not with individual PM size fractions or metal components. Postexposure expression of miR-146a was not significantly different from baseline (baseline = 0.61 ± 2.42, postexposure = 1.90 ± 3.94, p = 0.19) but was negatively correlated with exposure to lead (β = −0.51, p = 0.011) and cadmium (β = −0.42, p = 0.04).
Changes in miRNA expression may represent a novel mechanism mediating responses to PM and its metal components.
PMCID: PMC2898851  PMID: 20061215
epigenetics; etiology; miRNA expression; particulate matter; peripheral blood leukocytes
6.  Effects of Particulate Matter on Genomic DNA Methylation Content and iNOS Promoter Methylation 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2008;117(2):217-222.
Altered patterns of gene expression mediate the effects of particulate matter (PM) on human health, but mechanisms through which PM modifies gene expression are largely undetermined.
We aimed at identifying short- and long-term effects of PM exposure on DNA methylation, a major genomic mechanism of gene expression control, in workers in an electric furnace steel plant with well-characterized exposure to PM with aerodynamic diameters < 10 μm (PM10).
We measured global genomic DNA methylation content estimated in Alu and long interspersed nuclear element-1 (LINE-1) repeated elements, and promoter DNA methylation of iNOS (inducible nitric oxide synthase), a gene suppressed by DNA methylation and induced by PM exposure in blood leukocytes. Quantitative DNA methylation analysis was performed through bisulfite PCR pyrosequencing on blood DNA obtained from 63 workers on the first day of a work week (baseline, after 2 days off work) and after 3 days of work (postexposure). Individual PM10 exposure was between 73.4 and 1,220 μg/m3.
Global methylation content estimated in Alu and LINE-1 repeated elements did not show changes in postexposure measures compared with baseline. PM10 exposure levels were negatively associated with methylation in both Alu [β = −0.19 %5-methylcytosine (%5mC); p = 0.04] and LINE-1 [β = −0.34 %5mC; p = 0.04], likely reflecting long-term PM10 effects. iNOS promoter DNA methylation was significantly lower in postexposure blood samples compared with baseline (difference = −0.61 %5mC; p = 0.02).
We observed changes in global and gene specific methylation that should be further characterized in future investigations on the effects of PM.
PMCID: PMC2649223  PMID: 19270791
DNA methylation; epigenetics; etiology; interspersed repetitive sequences; nitric oxide synthase; particulate matter

Results 1-6 (6)