Particulate air pollution is associated with cardiovascular events, but the mechanisms are not fully understood. The main objective was to assess the relationship between long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution and blood pressure (BP).
The authors used longitudinal data from 853 elderly men participating in the Veterans Administration Normative Aging Study, followed during 1996–2008. Long-term average exposures to traffic particles were created from daily predictions of black carbon (BC) exposure at the geocoded address of each subject, using a validated spatiotemporal model based on ambient monitoring at 82 Boston-area locations. The authors examined the association of these exposures with BP using a mixed model. The authors included the following covariates: age, body mass index, smoking, alcohol, fasting glucose, creatinine clearance, use of cardiovascular medication, education, census-level poverty, day of week and season of clinical visit.
The authors found significant positive associations between 1-year average BC exposure and both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. An IQR increase in 1-year average BC exposure (0.32 µg/m3) was associated with a 2.64 mm Hg increase in systolic blood pressure (95% CI 1.47 to 3.80) and a 2.41 mm Hg increase in diastolic blood pressure (95% CI 1.77 to 3.05).
Long-term exposure to traffic particles is associated with increased BP, which may explain part of the association with myocardial infarctions and cardiovascular deaths reported in cohort studies.
Previous studies suggest that air pollution is related to thrombosis, inflammation, and endothelial dysfunction. Mechanisms and sources of susceptibility are still unclear. One possibility is that these associations can be modified by DNA methylation states.
We conducted a cohort study with repeated measurements of fibrinogen, C-reactive protein, intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) in 704 elderly men participating in the Veterans Administration Normative Aging Study (2000-2009). We investigated short- and intermediate-term air pollution effects on these blood markers, and epigene-environment interactions by DNA methylation of Alu, LINE-1, tissue factor (F3), Toll-Like Receptor 2 (TLR-2), and ICAM-1.
We found effects of particle number, black carbon, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and carbon monoxide (CO) on fibrinogen. Ozone was a significant predictor of C-reactive protein and ICAM-1. Particle number, black carbon, NO2, CO, PM2.5, and sulfates were associated with ICAM-1and VCAM-1. An interquartile range increase in 24-hour exposure for NO2; was associated with a 1.7% (95% confidence interval = 0.2% to 3.3%) increase in fibrinogen for ozone a 10.8% (2.2% to 20.0%) increase in C-reactive protein for particle number, a 5.9% (3.6% to 8.3%) increase in ICAM-1; and for PM2.5 a 3.7% (1.7% to 5.8%) increase in VCAM-1. The air pollution effect was stronger among subjects having higher Alu, lower LINE-1, tissue factor, or TLR-2 methylation status.
We observed associations of traffic-related pollutants on fibrinogen, and both traffic and secondary particles on C-reactive protein, ICAM-1, and VCAM-1. There was effect modification by DNA methylation status, indicating that epigenetic states can convey susceptibility to air pollution.
Lung function is a strong predictor of mortality. While inflammatory markers have been associated with lung function decrease, pathways are still poorly understood and epigenetic changes may participate in lung function decline mechanisms. We studied the cross-sectional association between DNA methylation in nine inflammatory genes and lung function in a cohort of 756 elderly men living in the metropolitan area of Boston. Participants donated a blood sample for DNA methylation analysis and underwent spirometry at each visit every 3 to 5 y from 1999–2006. We used separate multivariate mixed effects regression models to study the association between each lung function measurement and DNA methylation within each gene. Decreased CRAT, F3 and TLR2 methylation was significantly associated with lower lung function. One interquartile range (IQR) decrease in DNA methylation was associated with lower forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), respectively by 2.94% (p < 10−4) and 2.47% (p < 10−3) for F3 and by 2.10% (p < 10−2) and 2.42% (p < 10−3) for TLR2. Decreased IFNγ and IL6 methylation was significantly associated with better lung function. One IQR decrease in DNA methylation was associated with higher FEV1 by 1.75% (p = 0.02) and 1.67% (p = 0.05) for IFNγ and IL6, respectively. These data demonstrate that DNA methylation may be part of the biological processes underlying the lung function decline and that IFNγ and IL6 may have ambivalent roles through activation of negative feedback.
DNA methylation; genes; spirometry; FEV1; lungs; TLR2; F3; INOS; GCR; OGG1
Household air pollution (HAP) due to solid fuel use is a major public health threat in low-income countries. Most health effects are thought to be related to exposure to the fine particulate matter (PM) component of HAP, but it is currently impractical to measure personal exposure to PM in large studies. Carbon monoxide (CO) has been shown in cross-sectional analyses to be a reliable surrogate for particles<2.5 µm in diameter (PM2.5) in kitchens where wood-burning cookfires are a dominant source, but it is unknown whether a similar PM2.5-CO relationship exists for personal exposures longitudinally. We repeatedly measured (216 measures, 116 women) 24-hour personal PM2.5 (median [IQR] = 0.11 [0.05, 0.21] mg/m3) and CO (median [IQR] = 1.18 [0.50, 2.37] mg/m3) among women cooking over open woodfires or chimney woodstoves in Guatemala. Pollution measures were natural-log transformed for analyses. In linear mixed effects models with random subject intercepts, we found that personal CO explained 78% of between-subject variance in personal PM2.5. We did not see a difference in slope by stove type. This work provides evidence that in settings where there is a dominant source of biomass combustion, repeated measures of personal CO can be used as a reliable surrogate for an individual's PM2.5 exposure. This finding has important implications for the feasibility of reliably estimating long-term (months to years) PM2.5 exposure in large-scale epidemiological and intervention studies of HAP.
Previous studies found effect modification of associations between traffic-related air pollution and cardiovascular outcomes by polymorphisms in the hemochromatosis gene (HFE). As traffic-related air pollution may impact cognition through effects on cardiovascular health or through mechanisms which may also influence cardiovascular outcomes, we hypothesized that HFE polymorphisms would also modify a previously observed association between traffic-related air pollution exposure and cognition in older men.
We considered data from 628 participants of the VA Normative Aging Study. We estimated long term exposure to black carbon (BC), a marker of traffic related air pollution, using a spatio-temporal land use regression model. We assessed cognition using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), a test of global function, and performance on a battery of other tests, covering a wide range of domains. We investigated whether variants of HFE C282Y and H63D modified the association between BC and having a low MMSE score using logistic models with generalized estimating equations and multiplicative interaction terms. Similarly, we assessed whether HFE variants modified the association between BC and performance on the cognitive battery using linear mixed models with multiplicative interaction terms.
Our results suggest modification of the BC-cognition association by HFE C282Y, although the test of interaction did not achieve statistical significance. In multivariable-adjusted models, participants who lacked a HFE C282Y variant (CC) exhibited an adverse association between BC and total cognition z-score (beta for a doubling in BC concentration: -0.061, 95% CI: -0.115, -0.007), while we did not observe an association in participants with at least one variant genotype (CY or YY) (beta for a doubling in BC concentration: 0.073, 95% CI: -0.081, 0.228; p-value for interaction: 0.11). The pattern of association was similar for analyses considering performance on the Mini-Mental State Examination. There was little evidence to support effect modification of the BC-cognition association by the HFE H63D genotype.
Our data suggest that older adults who lack an HFE C282Y variant may be more susceptible to an adverse effect of traffic-related air pollution exposure on cognition. This finding and the proposed biological mechanism require confirmation.
Aging; Black carbon; Cognitive dysfunction; Epidemiology; Particulate matter; HFE; Hemochromatosis; Gene-environment interaction; Susceptible group
Low-level environmental cadmium exposure and neurotoxicity has not been well studied in adults. Our goal was to evaluate associations between neurocognitive exam scores and a biomarker of cumulative cadmium exposure among adults in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III).
NHANES III is a nationally representative cross-sectional survey of the U.S. population conducted between 1988 and 1994. We analyzed data from a subset of participants, age 20–59, who participated in a computer-based neurocognitive evaluation. There were four outcome measures: the Simple Reaction Time Test (SRTT: visual motor speed), the Symbol Digit Substitution Test (SDST: attention/perception), the Serial Digit Learning Test (SDLT) trials-to-criterion, and the SDLT total-error-score (SDLT-tests: learning recall/short-term memory). We fit multivariable-adjusted models to estimate associations between urinary cadmium concentrations and test scores.
5662 participants underwent neurocognitive screening, and 5572 (98%) of these had a urinary cadmium level available. Prior to multivariable-adjustment, higher urinary cadmium concentration was associated with worse performance in each of the 4 outcomes. After multivariable-adjustment most of these relationships were not significant, and age was the most influential variable in reducing the association magnitudes. However among never-smokers with no known occupational cadmium exposure the relationship between urinary cadmium and SDST score (attention/perception) was significant: a 1 μg/L increase in urinary cadmium corresponded to a 1.93% (95%CI: 0.05, 3.81) decrement in performance.
These results suggest that higher cumulative cadmium exposure in adults may be related to subtly decreased performance in tasks requiring attention and perception, particularly among those adults whose cadmium exposure is primarily though diet (no smoking or work based cadmium exposure). This association was observed among exposure levels that have been considered to be without adverse effects and these levels are common in U.S. adults. Thus further research into the potential neurocognitive effects of cadmium exposure is warranted. Because cumulative cadmium exposure may mediate some of the effects of age and smoking on cognition, adjusting for these variables may result in the underestimation of associations with cumulative cadmium exposure. Prospective studies that include never-smokers and non-occupationally exposed individuals are needed to clarify these issues.
Cadmium; Neurocognitive; Neuropsychological; NES2; NHANES; Attention; Smoking; Metals; Aging; Cognitive
We previously reported that asthmatic children with GSTM1 null genotype may be more susceptible to the acute effect of ozone on the small airways and might benefit from antioxidant supplementation. This study aims to assess the acute effect of ozone on lung function (FEF25-75) in asthmatic children according to dietary intake of vitamin C and the number of putative risk alleles in three antioxidant genes: GSTM1, GSTP1 (rs1695), and NQO1 (rs1800566).
257 asthmatic children from two cohort studies conducted in Mexico City were included. Stratified linear mixed models with random intercepts and random slopes on ozone were used. Potential confounding by ethnicity was assessed. Analyses were conducted under single gene and genotype score approaches.
The change in FEF25-75 per interquartile range (60 ppb) of ozone in persistent asthmatic children with low vitamin C intake and GSTM1 null was −91.2 ml/s (p = 0.06). Persistent asthmatic children with 4 to 6 risk alleles and low vitamin C intake showed an average decrement in FEF25-75 of 97.2 ml/s per 60 ppb of ozone (p = 0.03). In contrast in children with 1 to 3 risk alleles, acute effects of ozone on FEF25-75 did not differ by vitamin C intake.
Our results provide further evidence that asthmatic children predicted to have compromised antioxidant defense by virtue of genetic susceptibility combined with deficient antioxidant intake may be at increased risk of adverse effects of ozone on pulmonary function.
Air pollution; Asthmatic children; Antioxidant genes; Mexico City; Vitamin C
Background Estimates of global DNA methylation from repetitive DNA elements, such as Alu and LINE-1, have been increasingly used in epidemiological investigations because of their relative low-cost, high-throughput and quantitative results. Nevertheless, determinants of these methylation measures in healthy individuals are still largely unknown. The aim of this study was to examine whether age, gender, smoking habits, alcohol drinking and body mass index (BMI) are associated with Alu or LINE-1 methylation levels in blood leucocyte DNA of healthy individuals.
Methods Individual data from five studies including a total of 1465 healthy subjects were combined. DNA methylation was quantified by PCR-pyrosequencing.
Results Age [β = −0.011% of 5-methyl-cytosine (%5mC)/year, 95% confidence interval (CI) −0.020 to −0.001%5mC/year] and alcohol drinking (β = −0.214, 95% CI −0.415 to −0.013) were inversely associated with Alu methylation. Compared with females, males had lower Alu methylation (β = −0.385, 95% CI −0.665 to −0.104) and higher LINE-1 methylation (β = 0.796, 95% CI 0.261 to 1.330). No associations were found with smoking or BMI. Percent neutrophils and lymphocytes in blood counts exhibited a positive (β = 0.036, 95% CI 0.010 to 0.061) and negative (β = −0.038, 95% CI −0.065 to −0.012) association with LINE-1 methylation, respectively.
Conclusions Global methylation measures in blood DNA vary in relation with certain host and lifestyle characteristics, including age, gender, alcohol drinking and white blood cell counts. These findings need to be considered in designing epidemiological investigations aimed at identifying associations between DNA methylation and health outcomes.
Blood; DNA methylation; epigenetics; meta-analysis; repetitive elements
Background: A number of studies have shown associations between chronic exposure to particulate air pollution and increased mortality, particularly from cardiovascular disease, but fewer studies have examined the association between long-term exposure to fine particulate air pollution and specific cardiovascular events, such as acute myocardial infarction (AMI).
Objective: We examined how long-term exposure to area particulate matter affects the onset of AMI, and we distinguished between area and local pollutants.
Methods: Building on the Worcester Heart Attack Study, an ongoing community-wide investigation examining changes over time in myocardial infarction incidence in greater Worcester, Massachusetts, we conducted a case–control study of 4,467 confirmed cases of AMI diagnosed between 1995 and 2003 and 9,072 matched controls selected from Massachusetts resident lists. We used a prediction model based on satellite aerosol optical depth (AOD) measurements to generate both exposure to particulate matter ≤ 2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5) at the area level (10 × 10 km) and the local level (100 m) based on local land use variables. We then examined the association between area and local particulate pollution and occurrence of AMI.
Results: An interquartile range (IQR) increase in area PM2.5 (0.59 μg/m3) was associated with a 16% increase in the odds of AMI (95% CI: 1.04, 1.29). An IQR increase in total PM2.5 (area + local, 1.05 μg/m3) was weakly associated with a 4% increase in the odds of AMI (95% CI: 0.96, 1.11).
Conclusions: Residential exposure to PM2.5 may best be represented by a combination of area and local PM2.5, and it is important to consider spatial gradients within a single metropolitan area when examining the relationship between particulate matter exposure and cardiovascular events.
DNA methylation has been associated with age-related disease. Intra-individual changes in gene-specific DNA methylation over time in a community-based cohort has not been well described. We estimated the change in DNA methylation due to aging for nine genes in an elderly, community-dwelling cohort of men. Seven hundred and eighty four men from the Veterans Administration Normative Aging Study who were living in metropolitan Boston from 1999–2009 donated a blood sample for DNA methylation analysis at clinical examinations repeated at approximately 3-5 year intervals. We used mixed effects regression models. Aging was significantly associated with decreased methylation of GCR, iNOS and TLR2 and with increased methylation of IFNγ, F3, CRAT and OGG. Obstructive pulmonary disease at baseline modified the effect of aging on methylation of IFNγ (interaction p = 0.04). For participants who had obstructive pulmonary disease at their baseline visit, the rate of change of methylation of IFNγ was -0.05% 5-methyl-cytosine (5-mC) per year (95% CI: -0.22, 0.13), but was 0.14% 5-mC per year (95% CI: 0.05, 0.24) for those without this condition. Models with random slopes indicated significant heterogeneity in the effect of aging on methylation of GCR, iNOS and OGG. These findings suggest that DNA methylation may reflect differential biological aging.
aging; DNA Mmthylation; epigenesis; genetic
Pessimism, a general tendency toward negative expectancies, is a risk factor for depression and also heart disease, stroke, and reduced cancer survival. There is evidence that individuals with higher lead exposure have poorer health. However, low socioeconomic status (SES) is linked with higher lead levels and greater pessimism, and it is unclear whether lead influences psychological functioning independently of other social factors. The authors considered interrelations among childhood and adult SES, lead levels, and psychological functioning in data collected on 412 Boston area men between 1991 and 2002 in a subgroup of the VA Normative Aging Study. Pessimism was measured by using the Life Orientation Test. Cumulative (tibia) lead was measured by x-ray fluorescence. Structural equation modeling was used to quantify the relations as mediated by childhood and adult SES, controlling for age, health behaviors, and health status. An interquartile range increase in lead quartile was associated with a 0.37 increase in pessimism score (P < 0.05). Low childhood and adult SES were related to higher tibia lead levels, and both were also independently associated with higher pessimism. Lead maintained an independent association with pessimism even after childhood and adult SES were considered. Results demonstrate an interrelated role of lead burden and SES over the life course in relation to psychological functioning in older age.
depression; lead; metals; orientation; psychology; socioeconomic factors
The use of biplanar videoradiography technology has become increasingly popular for evaluating joint function in vivo. Two fundamentally different methods are currently employed to reconstruct 3-D bone motions captured using this technology. Marker-based tracking requires at least three radio-opaque markers to be implanted in the bone of interest. Markerless tracking makes use of algorithms designed to match 3-D bone shapes to biplanar videoradiography data. In order to reliably quantify in vivo bone motion, the systematic error of these tracking techniques should be evaluated.
Method of approach
Herein, we present new markerless tracking software that makes use of modern GPU technology, describe a versatile method for quantifying the systematic error of a biplanar videoradiography motion capture system using independent gold standard instrumentation, and evaluate the systematic error of the W.M. Keck XROMM Facility’s biplanar videoradiography system using both marker-based and markerless tracking algorithms under static and dynamic motion conditions. A polycarbonate flag embedded with 12 radio-opaque markers was used to evaluate the systematic error of the marker-based tracking algorithm. Three human cadaveric bones (distal femur, distal radius, and distal ulna) were used to evaluate the systematic error of the markerless tracking algorithm. The systematic error was evaluated by comparing motions to independent gold standard instrumentation. Static motions were compared to high accuracy linear and rotary stages while dynamic motions were compared to a high accuracy angular displacement transducer.
Marker-based tracking was shown to effectively track motion to within 0.1 mm and 0.1° under static and dynamic conditions. Furthermore, the presented results indicate that markerless tracking can be used to effectively track rapid bone motions to within 0.15° for the distal aspects of the femur, radius, and ulna.
Both marker-based and markerless tracking techniques were in excellent agreement with the gold standard instrumentation for both static and dynamic testing protocols. Future research will employ these techniques to quantify in vivo joint motion for high-speed upper and lower extremity impacts such as jumping, landing, and hammering.
biplanar; x-ray; videoradiography; motion capture; systematic error; validation; accuracy; skeletal; biomechanics; digitally reconstructed radiograph; marker-based tracking; markerless tracking; software; hardware
The health effects of particulate air pollution are widely recognized and there is some evidence that the magnitude of these effects vary by particle component. We studied the effects of ambient fine particles (aerodynamic diameter < 2.5μm, PM2.5) and their components on cause-specific mortality in Santiago, Chile, where particulate pollution is a major public health concern.
Air pollution was collected in a residential area in the center of Santiago. Daily mortality counts were obtained from the National Institute of Statistic. The associations between PM2.5 and cause-specific mortality were studied by time series analysis controlling for time trends, day of the week, temperature and relative humidity. We then included an interaction term between PM2.5 and the monthly averages of the mean ratios of individual elements to PM2.5 mass.
We found significant effects of PM2.5 on all the causes analyzed, with a 1.33% increase (95% CI: 0.87-1.78) in cardiovascular mortality per 10μg/m3 increase in the two days average of PM2.5. We found that zinc was associated with higher cardiovascular mortality. Particles with high content of chromium, copper and sulfur showed stronger associations with respiratory and COPD mortality, while high zinc and sodium content of PM2.5 amplified the association with cerebrovascular disease.
Our findings suggest that PM2.5 with high zinc, chromium, copper, sodium, and sulfur content have stronger associations with mortality than PM2.5 mass alone in Santiago, Chile. The sources of particles containing these elements need to be determined to better control their emissions.
Air pollution; Mortality; PM2.5; Elements
To investigate the association between methylation of transposable elements Alu and long-interspersed nuclear elements (LINE-1) and lung function.
Outpatient Veterans Administration facilities in greater Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Individuals from the Veterans Administration Normative Aging Study, a longitudinal study of aging in men, evaluated between 1999 and 2007. The majority (97%) were white.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Primary predictor was methylation, assessed using PCR-pyrosequencing after bisulphite treatment. Primary outcome was lung function as assessed by spirometry, performed according to American Thoracic Society/European Respiratory Society guidelines at the same visit as the blood draws.
In multivariable models adjusted for age, height, body mass index (BMI), pack-years of smoking, current smoking and race, Alu hypomethylation was associated with lower forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) (β=28 ml per 1% change in Alu methylation, p=0.017) and showed a trend towards association with a lower forced vital capacity (FVC) (β=27 ml, p=0.06) and lower FEV1/FVC (β=0.3%, p=0.058). In multivariable models adjusted for age, height, BMI, pack-years of smoking, current smoking, per cent lymphocytes, race and baseline lung function, LINE-1 hypomethylation was associated with more rapid decline of FEV1 (β=6.9 ml/year per 1% change in LINE-1 methylation, p=0.005) and of FVC (β=9.6 ml/year, p=0.002).
In multiple regression analysis, Alu hypomethylation was associated with lower lung function, and LINE-1 hypomethylation was associated with more rapid lung function decline in a cohort of older and primarily white men from North America. Future studies should aim to replicate these findings and determine if Alu or LINE-1 hypomethylation may be due to specific and modifiable environmental exposures.
Rationale: Time series studies have reported associations between ozone and daily deaths. Only one cohort study has reported the effect of long-term exposures on deaths, and little is known about effects of chronic ozone exposure on survival in susceptible populations.
Objectives: We investigated whether ozone was associated with survival in four cohorts of persons with specific diseases in 105 United States cities, treating ozone as a time varying exposure.
Methods: We used Medicare data (1985–2006), and constructed cohorts of persons hospitalized with chronic conditions that might predispose to ozone effects: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, congestive heart failure, and myocardial infarction. Yearly warm-season average ozone was merged to the individual follow-up in each city. We applied Cox proportional hazard model for each cohort within each city, adjusting for individual risk factors, temperature, and city-specific long-term trends.
Measurements and Main Results: We found significant associations with a hazard ratio for mortality of 1.06 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03–1.08) per 5-ppb increase in summer average ozone for persons with congestive heart failure; of 1.09 (95% CI, 1.06–1.12) with myocardial infarction; of 1.07 (95% CI, 1.04–1.09) with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; and of 1.07 (95% CI, 1.05–1.10) for diabetics. We also found that the effect varied by region, but that this was mostly explained by mean temperature, which is likely a surrogate of air conditioning use, and hence exposure.
Conclusions: This is the first study that follows persons with specific chronic conditions, and shows that long-term ozone exposure is associated with increased risk of death in these groups.
survival analysis; ozone; long-term exposure; cardiovascular disease; mortality
More people die in the winter from cardiac disease, and there are competing hypotheses to explain this. The authors conducted a study in 48 US cities to determine how much of the seasonal pattern in cardiac deaths could be explained by influenza epidemics, whether that allowed a more parsimonious control for season than traditional spline models, and whether such control changed the short term association with temperature.
The authors obtained counts of daily cardiac deaths and of emergency hospital admissions of the elderly for influenza during 1992–2000. Quasi-Poisson regression models were conducted estimating the association between daily cardiac mortality, and temperature.
Controlling for influenza admissions provided a more parsimonious model with better Generalized Cross-Validation, lower residual serial correlation, and better captured Winter peaks. The temperature-response function was not greatly affected by adjusting for influenza. The pooled estimated increase in risk for a temperature decrease from 0 to −5°C was 1.6% (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1-2.1%). Influenza accounted for 2.3% of cardiac deaths over this period.
The results suggest that including epidemic data explained most of the irregular seasonal pattern (about 18% of the total seasonal variation), allowing more parsimonious models than when adjusting for seasonality only with smooth functions of time. The effect of cold temperature is not confounded by epidemics.
With the increased use of small self-complementary adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors, the design of compact promoters becomes critical for packaging and expressing larger transgenes under ubiquitous or cell-specific control. In a comparative study of commonly used 800-bp cytomegalovirus (CMV) and chicken β-actin (CBA) promoters, we report significant differences in the patterns of cell-specific gene expression in the central and peripheral nervous systems. The CMV promoter provides high initial neural expression that diminishes over time. The CBA promoter displayed mostly ubiquitous and high neural expression, but substantially lower expression in motor neurons (MNs). We report the creation of a novel hybrid form of the CBA promoter (CBh) that provides robust long-term expression in all cells observed with CMV or CBA, including MNs. To develop a short neuronal promoter to package larger transgenes into AAV vectors, we also found that a 229-bp fragment of the mouse methyl-CpG-binding protein-2 (MeCP2) promoter was able to drive neuron-specific expression within the CNS. Thus the 800-bp CBh promoter provides strong, long-term, and ubiquitous CNS expression whereas the MeCP2 promoter allows an extra 570-bp packaging capacity, with low and mostly neuronal expression within the CNS, similar to the MeCP2 transcription factor.
With the increased use of small self-complementary adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors, the design of compact promoters becomes critical for packaging and expressing larger transgenes under ubiquitous or cell-specific control. Gray and colleagues report the creation of a novel hybrid form of the CBA promoter (CBh) that provides robust long-term expression in all cells, compared with cells in which gene expression is controlled by the CMV or CBA promoter. In addition, the group has developed a short, 229-bp neuronal promoter derived from the MeCP2 transcription factor. This promoter allows for an extra 570 bp in packaging capacity and provides low and neuronal-specific expression within the CNS.
We conducted a randomized trial comparing adjuvant treatment with edrecolomab versus observation in patients with resected, low-risk, stage II colon cancer. This study also prospectively studied patient- and tumor-specific markers of treatment outcome.
Patients and Methods
After surgical resection, patients with stage II colon cancer were randomly assigned to either five infusions of edrecolomab at 28-day intervals or observation without adjuvant therapy.
Final accrual included 1,738 patients; 865 patients received edrecolomab, and 873 patients were observed without adjuvant treatment. Median follow-up time was 7.9 years. There were no significant outcome differences between study arms (overall survival [OS], P = .71; disease-free survival, P = .64). The combined 5-year all-cause OS was 0.86 (95% CI, 0.84 to 0.88), and the combined 5-year disease-specific OS was 0.93 (95% CI, 0.91 to 0.94). The relationships between demographic and histopathologic factors and survival differed for all-cause and disease-specific survival outcomes, but no combined prognostic factor model was found to adequately classify patients at higher risk of recurrence or death as a result of colon cancer.
Edrecolomab did not prolong survival. Consequently, this large study with a long duration of follow-up provided unique data concerning the natural history of resected stage II colon cancer. Prognostic factors identified in previous retrospective and pooled analyses were associated with survival outcomes in this stage II patient cohort. Results from ongoing molecular marker studies may enhance our ability to determine the risk profile of these patients.
During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic (pH1N1), morbidity and mortality sparing was observed among the elderly population; it was hypothesized that this age group benefited from immunity to pH1N1 due to cross-reactive antibodies generated from prior infection with antigenically similar influenza viruses. Evidence from serologic studies and genetic similarities between pH1N1 and historical influenza viruses suggest that the incidence of pH1N1 cases should drop markedly in age cohorts born prior to the disappearance of H1N1 in 1957, namely those at least 52–53 years old in 2009, but the precise range of ages affected has not been delineated.
Methods and Findings
To test for any age-associated discontinuities in pH1N1 incidence, we aggregated laboratory-confirmed pH1N1 case data from 8 jurisdictions in 7 countries, stratified by single year of age, sex (when available), and hospitalization status. Using single year of age population denominators, we generated smoothed curves of the weighted risk ratio of pH1N1 incidence, and looked for sharp drops at varying age bandwidths, defined as a significantly negative second derivative. Analyses stratified by hospitalization status and sex were used to test alternative explanations for observed discontinuities. We found that the risk of laboratory-confirmed infection with pH1N1 declines with age, but that there was a statistically significant leveling off or increase in risk from about 45 to 50 years of age, after which a sharp drop in risk occurs until the late fifties. This trend was more pronounced in hospitalized cases and in women and was independent of the choice in smoothing parameters. The age range at which the decline in risk accelerates corresponds to the cohort born between 1951–1959 (hospitalized) and 1953–1960 (not hospitalized).
The reduced incidence of pH1N1 disease in older individuals shows a detailed age-specific pattern consistent with protection conferred by exposure to influenza A/H1N1 viruses circulating before 1957.
Bone lead is a cumulative measure of lead exposure that can also be remobilized. We examined repeated measures of bone lead over 11 years to characterize long-term changes and identify predictors of tibia and patella lead stores in an elderly male population.
Lead was measured every 3–5 years by k-x-ray fluorescence and mixed-effect models with random effects were used to evaluate change over time.
554 participants provided up to 4 bone lead measurements. Final models predicted a −1.4% annual decline (95%CI: −2.2,−0.7) for tibia lead and piecewise linear model for patella with an initial decline of 5.1% per year (95%CI: −6.2,−3.9) during the first 4.6 years but no significant change thereafter (−0.4% (95% CI: −2.4, 1.7)).
These results suggest that bone lead half-life may be longer than previously reported.
The case-crossover method is an efficient study design for evaluating associations between transient exposures and the onset of acute events. In one common implementation of this design, odds ratios are estimated using conditional logistic or stratified Cox proportional hazards models, with data stratified on each individual event. In environmental epidemiology, where aggregate time-series data are often used, combining strata with identical exposure histories may be computationally convenient. However, when the SAS software package (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, North Carolina) is used for analysis, users can obtain biased results if care is not taken to properly account for multiple cases observed at the same time. The authors show that fitting a stratified Cox model with the “Breslow” option for handling tied failure times (i.e., ties = Breslow) provides unbiased health-effects estimates in case-crossover studies with shared exposures. The authors’ simulations showed that using conditional logistic regression—or equivalently a stratified Cox model with the “ties = discrete” option—in this setting leads to health-effect estimates which can be biased away from the null hypothesis of no association by 22%–39%, even for small simulated relative risks. All methods tested by the authors yielded unbiased results under a simulated scenario with a relative risk of 1.0. This potential bias does not arise in R (R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria) or Stata (Stata Corporation, College Station, Texas).
air pollution; bias (epidemiology); environmental exposure; environmental health; epidemiologic methods
Background: Household cleaning products are associated with adverse respiratory health outcomes, but the cardiovascular health effects are largely unknown.
Objective: We determined if long-term use of household sprays and scented products at home was associated with reduced heart rate variability (HRV), a marker of autonomic cardiac dysfunction.
Methods: We recorded 24-hr electrocardiograms in a cross-sectional survey of 581 Swiss adults, ≥ 50 years of age, who answered a detailed questionnaire regarding their use of household cleaning products in their homes. The adjusted average percent changes in standard deviation of all normal-to-normal intervals in 24 hr (24-hr SDNN) and total power (TP) were estimated in multiple linear regression in association with frequency [< 1, 1–3, or 4–7 days/week, unexposed (reference)] of using cleaning sprays, air freshening sprays, and scented products.
Results: Decreases in 24-hr SDNN and TP were observed with frequent use of all product types, but the strongest reductions were associated with air freshening sprays. Compared with unexposed participants, we found that using air freshening sprays 4–7 days/week was associated with 11% [95% confidence interval (CI): –20%, –2%] and 29% (95% CI: –46%, –8%) decreases in 24-hr SDNN and TP, respectively. Inverse associations of 24-SDNN and TP with increased use of cleaning sprays, air freshening sprays, and scented products were observed mainly in participants with obstructive lung disease (p < 0.05 for interactions).
Conclusions: In predominantly older adult women, long-term frequent use of household spray and scented products was associated with reduced HRV, which suggests an increased risk of cardiovascular health hazards. People with preexisting pulmonary conditions may be more susceptible.
airway irritants; autonomic nervous system; epidemiology; heart rate variability; observational studies
Background: Epidemiologic studies have reported associations between fine particles (aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 µm; PM2.5) and mortality. However, concerns have been raised regarding the sensitivity of the results to model specifications, lower exposures, and averaging time.
Objective: We addressed these issues using 11 additional years of follow-up of the Harvard Six Cities study, incorporating recent lower exposures.
Methods: We replicated the previously applied Cox regression, and examined different time lags, the shape of the concentration–response relationship using penalized splines, and changes in the slope of the relation over time. We then conducted Poisson survival analysis with time-varying effects for smoking, sex, and education.
Results: Since 2001, average PM2.5 levels, for all six cities, were < 18 µg/m3. Each increase in PM2.5 (10 µg/m3) was associated with an adjusted increased risk of all-cause mortality (PM2.5 average on previous year) of 14% [95% confidence interval (CI): 7, 22], and with 26% (95% CI: 14, 40) and 37% (95% CI: 7, 75) increases in cardiovascular and lung-cancer mortality (PM2.5 average of three previous years), respectively. The concentration–response relationship was linear down to PM2.5 concentrations of 8 µg/m3. Mortality rate ratios for PM2.5 fluctuated over time, but without clear trends despite a substantial drop in the sulfate fraction. Poisson models produced similar results.
Conclusions: These results suggest that further public policy efforts that reduce fine particulate matter air pollution are likely to have continuing public health benefits.
air pollution; cohort studies; concentration–response; follow-up studies; lag; lung cancer; mortality; particles; PM2.5; threshold
Adverse birth outcomes such as low birth weight and premature birth have been previously linked with exposure to ambient air pollution. Most studies relied on a limited number of monitors in the region of interest, which can introduce exposure error or restrict the analysis to persons living near a monitor, which reduces sample size and generalizability and may create selection bias.
We evaluated the relationship between premature birth and birth weight with exposure to ambient particulate matter (PM2.5) levels during pregnancy in Massachusetts for a 9-year period (2000–2008). Building on a novel method we developed for predicting daily PM2.5 at the spatial resolution of a 10x10km grid across New-England, we estimated the average exposure during 30 and 90 days prior to birth as well as the full pregnancy period for each mother. We used linear and logistic mixed models to estimate the association between PM2.5 exposure and birth weight (among full term births) and PM2.5 exposure and preterm birth adjusting for infant sex, maternal age, maternal race, mean income, maternal education level, prenatal care, gestational age, maternal smoking, percent of open space near mothers residence, average traffic density and mothers health.
Birth weight was negatively associated with PM2.5 across all tested periods. For example, a 10 μg/m3 increase of PM2.5 exposure during the entire pregnancy was significantly associated with a decrease of 13.80 g [95% confidence interval (CI) = −21.10, -6.05] in birth weight after controlling for other factors, including traffic exposure. The odds ratio for a premature birth was 1.06 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.01–1.13) for each 10 μg/m3 increase of PM2.5 exposure during the entire pregnancy period.
The presented study suggests that exposure to PM2.5 during the last month of pregnancy contributes to risks for lower birth weight and preterm birth in infants.
Air pollution; Birth weight; Preterm birth; Aerosol optical depth; Epidemiology; PM2.5