The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution (MESA Air) was initiated in 2004 to investigate the relation between individual-level estimates of long-term air pollution exposure and the progression of subclinical atherosclerosis and the incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD). MESA Air builds on a multicenter, community-based US study of CVD, supplementing that study with additional participants, outcome measurements, and state-of-the-art air pollution exposure assessments of fine particulate matter, oxides of nitrogen, and black carbon. More than 7,000 participants aged 45–84 years are being followed for over 10 years for the identification and characterization of CVD events, including acute myocardial infarction and other coronary artery disease, stroke, peripheral artery disease, and congestive heart failure; cardiac procedures; and mortality. Subcohorts undergo baseline and follow-up measurements of coronary artery calcium using computed tomography and carotid artery intima-medial wall thickness using ultrasonography. This cohort provides vast exposure heterogeneity in ranges currently experienced and permitted in most developed nations, and the air monitoring and modeling methods employed will provide individual estimates of exposure that incorporate residence-specific infiltration characteristics and participant-specific time-activity patterns. The overarching study aim is to understand and reduce uncertainty in health effect estimation regarding long-term exposure to air pollution and CVD.
air pollution; atherosclerosis; cardiovascular diseases; environmental exposure; epidemiologic methods; particulate matter
Many cohort studies in environmental epidemiology require accurate modeling and prediction of fine scale spatial variation in ambient air quality across the U.S. This modeling requires the use of small spatial scale geographic or “land use” regression covariates and some degree of spatial smoothing. Furthermore, the details of the prediction of air quality by land use regression and the spatial variation in ambient air quality not explained by this regression should be allowed to vary across the continent due to the large scale heterogeneity in topography, climate, and sources of air pollution. This paper introduces a regionalized national universal kriging model for annual average fine particulate matter (PM2.5) monitoring data across the U.S. To take full advantage of an extensive database of land use covariates we chose to use the method of Partial Least Squares, rather than variable selection, for the regression component of the model (the “universal” in “universal kriging”) with regression coefficients and residual variogram models allowed to vary across three regions defined as West Coast, Mountain West, and East. We demonstrate a very high level of cross-validated accuracy of prediction with an overall R2 of 0.88 and well-calibrated predictive intervals. In accord with the spatially varying characteristics of PM2.5 on a national scale and differing kriging smoothness parameters, the accuracy of the prediction varies by region with predictive intervals being notably wider in the West Coast and Mountain West in contrast to the East.
Ambient air quality; Land use regression; National air quality model; Partial Least Squares; Particulate matter; Universal kriging
Rationale: Pulmonary emphysema overlaps partially with spirometrically defined chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is heritable, with moderately high familial clustering.
Objectives: To complete a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for the percentage of emphysema-like lung on computed tomography in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) Lung/SNP Health Association Resource (SHARe) Study, a large, population-based cohort in the United States.
Methods: We determined percent emphysema and upper-lower lobe ratio in emphysema defined by lung regions less than −950 HU on cardiac scans. Genetic analyses were reported combined across four race/ethnic groups: non-Hispanic white (n = 2,587), African American (n = 2,510), Hispanic (n = 2,113), and Chinese (n = 704) and stratified by race and ethnicity.
Measurements and Main Results: Among 7,914 participants, we identified regions at genome-wide significance for percent emphysema in or near SNRPF (rs7957346; P = 2.2 × 10−8) and PPT2 (rs10947233; P = 3.2 × 10−8), both of which replicated in an additional 6,023 individuals of European ancestry. Both single-nucleotide polymorphisms were previously implicated as genes influencing lung function, and analyses including lung function revealed independent associations for percent emphysema. Among Hispanics, we identified a genetic locus for upper-lower lobe ratio near the α-mannosidase–related gene MAN2B1 (rs10411619; P = 1.1 × 10−9; minor allele frequency [MAF], 4.4%). Among Chinese, we identified single-nucleotide polymorphisms associated with upper-lower lobe ratio near DHX15 (rs7698250; P = 1.8 × 10−10; MAF, 2.7%) and MGAT5B (rs7221059; P = 2.7 × 10−8; MAF, 2.6%), which acts on α-linked mannose. Among African Americans, a locus near a third α-mannosidase–related gene, MAN1C1 (rs12130495; P = 9.9 × 10−6; MAF, 13.3%) was associated with percent emphysema.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that some genes previously identified as influencing lung function are independently associated with emphysema rather than lung function, and that genes related to α-mannosidase may influence risk of emphysema.
emphysema; computed tomography; multiethnic; cohort study; genetic association
Background: Air pollution is linked to low lung function and to respiratory events, yet little is known of associations with lung structure.
Objectives: We examined associations of particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) with percent emphysema-like lung on computed tomography (CT).
Methods: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) recruited participants (45–84 years of age) in six U.S. states. Percent emphysema was defined as lung regions < –910 Hounsfield Units on cardiac CT scans acquired following a highly standardized protocol. Spirometry was also conducted on a subset. Individual-level 1- and 20-year average air pollution exposures were estimated using spatiotemporal models that included cohort-specific measurements. Multivariable regression was conducted to adjust for traditional risk factors and study location.
Results: Among 6,515 participants, we found evidence of an association between percent emphysema and long-term pollution concentrations in an analysis leveraging between-city exposure contrasts. Higher concentrations of PM2.5 (5 μg/m3) and NOx (25 ppb) over the previous year were associated with 0.6 (95% CI: 0.1, 1.2%) and 0.5 (95% CI: 0.1, 0.9%) higher average percent emphysema, respectively. However, after adjustment for study site the associations were –0.6% (95% CI: –1.5, 0.3%) for PM2.5 and –0.5% (95% CI: –1.1, 0.02%) for NOx. Lower lung function measures (FEV1 and FVC) were associated with higher PM2.5 and NOx levels in 3,791 participants before and after adjustment for study site, though most associations were not statistically significant.
Conclusions: Associations between ambient air pollution and percentage of emphysema-like lung were inconclusive in this cross-sectional study, thus longitudinal analyses may better clarify these associations with percent emphysema.
Citation: Adar SD, Kaufman JD, Diez-Roux AV, Hoffman EA, D’Souza J, Stukovsky KH, Rich SS, Rotter JI, Guo X, Raffel LJ, Sampson PD, Oron AP, Raghunathan T, Barr RG. 2015. Air pollution and percent emphysema identified by computed tomography in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Environ Health Perspect 123:144–151; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1307951
Particulate matter (PM) air pollution is associated with alterations in cardiac conductance and sudden cardiac death in epidemiological studies. Traffic-related air pollutants, including diesel exhaust (DE) may be at least partly responsible for these effects. In this experimental study we assessed whether short-term exposure to DE would result in alterations in heart rate variability (HRV), a non-invasive measure of autonomic control of the heart.
In a double-blind, crossover, controlled-exposure study, 16 adult volunteers were exposed (at rest) in randomized order to filtered air (FA) and two levels of diluted DE (100 or 200 μg/m3 of fine particulate matter) in two-hour sessions. Before, and at four time-points after each exposure we assessed HRV. HRV parameters assessed included both time domain statistics (standard deviation of N-N intervals (SDNN), and the square root of the mean of the sum of squared differences between successive N-N intervals (RMSSD)) and frequency domain statistics (high frequency power (HF), low frequency power (LF), and the LF/HF ratio).
We observed an effect at 3-hours after initiation of DE inhalation on the frequency domain statistics of HRV. DE at 200 μg/m3 elicited an increase in HF power compared to FA (Δ=0.33; 95% CI: 0.01 to 0.7) and a decrease in LF/HF ratio (Δ=-0.74; 95% CI: -1.2 to -0.2). The effect of DE on HF power was not consistent among study participants. There was no DE-effect on time domain statistics and no significant DE effect on HRV in later time-points.
We did not observe a consistent DE effect on the autonomic control of the heart in a controlled exposure experiment in young participants. Efforts are warranted to understand discrepancies between epidemiological and experimental studies of air pollution’s impact on HRV.
Air pollution; Heart rate variability; Autonomic nervous system; Diesel exhaust
Background and Purpose
Arterial stiffening is associated with hypertension, stroke, and cognitive decline; however, the effects of aging and cardiovascular disease risk factors on carotid artery stiffening have not been assessed prospectively in a large multi-ethnic, longitudinal study.
Distensibility coefficient and Young’s elastic modulus of the right common carotid artery were calculated at baseline and after a mean (standard deviation) of 9.4 (0.5) years in 2,650 participants. Effects of age and cardiovascular disease risk factors were evaluated by multivariable mixed regression and analysis of covariance models.
At baseline, participants were 59.9 (9.4) years old (53% female; 25% Black, 22% Hispanic, 14% Chinese). Young’s elastic modulus increased from 1,581 (927) to 1,749 (1,306) mmHg (p<0.0001) and distensibility coefficient decreased from 3.1 (1.3) to 2.7 (1.1) x 10−3 mmHg−1 (p<0.001), indicating progressive arterial stiffening. Young’s elastic modulus increased more among participants who were >75 years old at baseline (p<0.0001). In multivariable analyses, older age and less education independently predicted worsening Young’s elastic modulus and distensibility coefficient. Stopping antihypertensive medication during the study period predicted more severe worsening of Young’s elastic modulus (β=360.2 mmHg, p=0.008). Starting antihypertensive medication after exam 1 was predictive of improvements in distensibility coefficient (β =1.1 x 10−4, mmHg−1; p=0.024).
Arterial stiffening accelerates with advanced age. Older individuals experience greater increases in Young’s elastic modulus than do younger adults, even after considering the effects of traditional risk factors. Treating hypertension may slow the progressive decline in carotid artery distensibility observed with aging and improve cerebrovascular health.
Aging; Carotid arteries; Elasticity; Hypertension; Cardiovascular disease risk factors
DNA methylation is one of several epigenetic mechanisms that contribute to the regulation of gene expression; however, the extent to which methylation of CpG dinucleotides correlates with gene expression at the genome-wide level is still largely unknown. Using purified primary monocytes from subjects in a large community-based cohort (n = 1264), we characterized methylation (>485 000 CpG sites) and mRNA expression (>48K transcripts) and carried out genome-wide association analyses of 8370 expression phenotypes. We identified 11 203 potential cis-acting CpG loci whose degree of methylation was associated with gene expression (eMS) at a false discovery rate threshold of 0.001. Most of the associations were consistent in effect size and direction of effect across sex and three ethnicities. Contrary to expectation, these eMS were not predominately enriched in promoter regions, or CpG islands, but rather in the 3′ UTR, gene bodies, CpG shores or ‘offshore’ sites, and both positive and negative correlations between methylation and expression were observed across all locations. eMS were enriched for regions predicted to be regulatory by ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) data in multiple cell types, particularly enhancers. One of the strongest association signals detected (P < 2.2 × 10−308) was a methylation probe (cg17005068) in the promoter/enhancer region of the glutathione S-transferase theta 1 gene (GSTT1, encoding the detoxification enzyme) with GSTT1 mRNA expression. Our study provides a detailed description of the epigenetic architecture in human monocytes and its relationship to gene expression. These data may help prioritize interrogation of biologically relevant methylation loci and provide new insights into the epigenetic basis of human health and diseases.
Researchers have theorized that social and psychosocial factors increase vulnerability to the deleterious health effects of environmental hazards. We used baseline examination data (2000–2002) from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Participants were 45–84 years of age and free of clinical cardiovascular disease at enrollment (n = 6814). The modifying role of social and psychosocial factors on the association between exposure to air pollution comprising particulate matter less than 2.5 µm in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5) and blood pressure measures were examined using linear regression models. There was no evidence of synergistic effects of higher PM2.5 and adverse social/psychosocial factors on blood pressure. In contrast, there was weak evidence of stronger associations of PM2.5 with blood pressure in higher socioeconomic status groups. For example, those in the 10th percentile of the income distribution (i.e., low income) showed no association between PM2.5 and diastolic blood pressure (b = −0.41 mmHg; 95% confidence interval: −1.40, 0.61), whereas those in the 90th percentile of the income distribution (i.e., high income) showed a 1.52-mmHg increase in diastolic blood pressure for each 10-µg/m3 increase in PM2.5 (95% confidence interval: 0.22, 2.83). Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that there are stronger associations between PM2.5 exposures and blood pressure in persons of lower socioeconomic status or those with greater psychosocial adversity.
air pollution; blood pressure; population groups; social environment; social medicine; social psychology
Observational evidence supports independent associations between 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD), parathyroid hormone (PTH) and cardiovascular risk. A plausible hypothesis for these associations is accelerated development of atherosclerosis.
Approach and Results
We evaluated cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of 25-OHD and PTH with carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and carotid plaques among 3251 participants free of cardiovascular disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. 25-OHD and PTH were measured at baseline by mass spectrometry and immunoassay, respectively. All subjects underwent a carotid ultrasound exam at baseline and 9.4 years later (median, range 8–11.1y). Multivariable linear and logistic regressions were used to test associations of 25-OHD and PTH with the extent and the progression of IMT and the prevalence and incidence of carotid plaque. Mean (SD) 25-OHD and PTH were 25.8ng/ml (10.6) and 44.2pg/ml (20.2). No independent associations were found between 25-OHD or PTH and IMT at baseline [increment of 1.9µm (95%CI −5.1 to 8.9) per 10ng/ml lower 25-OHD; increment of 0.8µm (95%CI −3.2 to 4.8) per 10pg/ml higher PTH] or progression of IMT [increment of 2.6µm (95%CI −2.5 to 7.8) per 10ng/ml lower 25-OHD, increment of 1.6µm (95%CI −1.9 to 5.2) per 10pg/ml higher PTH]. No associations were found with the baseline prevalence of carotid plaque or the incidence of new plaques over the study period. We did not observe any interaction by race or ethnicity (White, Chinese, Black and Hispanic).
The consistent lack of association of vitamin D and PTH with carotid IMT and plaque suggests that these hormones may influence cardiovascular risk through pathways not reflected by carotid atherosclerosis.
vitamin D; PTH; mineral metabolism; intima-media thickness; plaque; atherosclerosis; carotid
Background: The long-term health effects of coarse particular matter (PM10–2.5) are challenging to assess because of a limited understanding of the spatial variation in PM10–2.5 mass and its chemical components.
Objectives: We conducted a spatially intensive field study and developed spatial prediction models for PM10–2.5 mass and four selected species (copper, zinc, phosphorus, and silicon) in three American cities.
Methods: PM10–2.5 snapshot campaigns were conducted in Chicago, Illinois; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 2009 for the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Coarse Airborne Particulate Matter (MESA Coarse). In each city, samples were collected simultaneously outside the homes of approximately 40 participants over 2 weeks in the winter and/or summer. City-specific and combined prediction models were developed using land use regression (LUR) and universal kriging (UK). Model performance was evaluated by cross-validation (CV).
Results: PM10–2.5 mass and species varied within and between cities in a manner that was predictable by geographic covariates. City-specific LUR models generally performed well for total mass (CV R2, 0.41–0.68), copper (CV R2, 0.51–0.86), phosphorus (CV R2, 0.50–0.76), silicon (CV R2, 0.48–0.93), and zinc (CV R2, 0.36–0.73). Models pooled across all cities inconsistently captured within-city variability. Little difference was observed between the performance of LUR and UK models in predicting concentrations.
Conclusions: Characterization of fine-scale spatial variability of these often heterogeneous pollutants using geographic covariates should reduce exposure misclassification and increase the power of epidemiological studies investigating the long-term health impacts of PM10–2.5.
Citation: Zhang K, Larson TV, Gassett A, Szpiro AA, Daviglus M, Burke GL, Kaufman JD, Adar SD. 2014. Characterizing spatial patterns of airborne coarse particulate (PM10–2.5) mass and chemical components in three cities: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Environ Health Perspect 122:823–830; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1307287
Inhalation of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is associated with acute pulmonary inflammation and impairments in cardiovascular function. In many regions, PM2.5 is largely derived from diesel exhaust (DE), and these pathophysiological effects may be due in part to oxidative stress resulting from DE inhalation. The antioxidant glutathione (GSH) is important in limiting oxidative stress-induced vascular dysfunction. The rate-limiting enzyme in GSH synthesis is glutamate cysteine ligase and polymorphisms in its catalytic and modifier subunits (GCLC and GCLM) have been shown to influence vascular function and risk of myocardial infarction in humans.
We hypothesized that compromised de novo synthesis of GSH in Gclm−/+ mice would result in increased sensitivity to DE-induced lung inflammation and vascular effects.
Materials and methods
WT and Gclm−/+ mice were exposed to DE via inhalation (300 µg/m3) for 6 h. Neutrophil influx into the lungs, plasma GSH redox potential, vascular reactivity of aortic rings and aortic nitric oxide (NO•) were measured.
DE inhalation resulted in mild bronchoalveolar neutrophil influx in both genotypes. DE-induced effects on plasma GSH oxidation and acetylcholine (ACh)-relaxation of aortic rings were only observed in Gclm−/+ mice. Contrary to our hypothesis, DE exposure enhanced ACh-induced relaxation of aortic rings in Gclm−/+ mice.
Discussion and conclusion
These data support the hypothesis that genetic determinants of antioxidant capacity influence the biological effects of acute inhalation of DE. However, the acute effects of DE on the vasculature may be dependent on the location and types of vessels involved. Polymorphisms in GSH synthesis genes are common in humans and further investigations into these potential gene-environment interactions are warranted.
Diesel exhaust; glutathione; lung inflammation; nitric oxide; oxidative stress
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is linked to cardiovascular disease; however, there are few studies on the associations of cardiovascular genes with COPD.
We assessed the association of lung function with 2,100 genes selected for cardiovascular diseases among 20,077 European-Americans and 6,900 African-Americans. We performed replication of significant loci in the other racial group and an independent consortium of Europeans, tested the associations of significant loci with percent emphysema, and examined gene expression in an independent sample. We then tested the association of a related lipid biomarker with FEV1/FVC and percent emphysema.
We identified one new polymorphism for FEV1/FVC (rs805301) in European-Americans (p=1.3×10−6) and a second (rs707974) in the combined European-American and African-American analysis (p=1.38×10−7). Both SNPs flank the gene for apolipoprotein M (apoM), a component of HDL. Both replicated in an independent cohort. SNPs in a second gene related to apoM and HDL, PCSK9, were associated with FEV1/FVC among African-Americans. rs707974 was associated with percent emphysema among European-Americans and African-Americans, and APOM expression was related to FEV1/FVC and percent emphysema. Higher HDL levels were associated with lower FEV1/FVC and greater percent emphysema.
These findings suggest a novel role for the APOM/HDL pathway in the pathogenesis of COPD and emphysema.
Apolipoproteins; Cholesterol; Percent Emphysema; Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide; Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive
Research to date demonstrates a relationship between exposure to ambient air pollutants and cardiovascular disease. Many studies have shown associations between short-term exposures to elevated levels of air pollutants and cardiovascular disease events, and several cohort studies suggest effects of long-term exposure on cardiovascular mortality, coronary heart disease events, and stroke. The biological mechanisms underlying this chronic exposure relationship are not entirely clear, but are hypothesized to include systemic inflammation, autonomic nervous system imbalance, changes in vascular compliance, altered cardiac structure, and development of atherosclerosis. The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis provides an especially well-characterized population in which to investigate the relationship between air pollution and cardiovascular disease and to explore these biological pathways. This paper reviews findings reported to date within this cohort, and summarizes the aims and anticipated contributions of a major ancillary study, the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution.
Air pollution; cardiovascular disease; subclinical atherosclerosis; progression
Coronary heart disease (CHD) incidence has declined significantly in the US, as have levels of major coronary risk factors, including LDL-cholesterol, hypertension and smoking, but whether trends in subclinical atherosclerosis mirror these trends is not known.
Methods and Findings
To describe recent secular trends in subclinical atherosclerosis as measured by serial evaluations of coronary artery calcification (CAC) prevalence in a population over 10 years, we measured CAC using computed tomography (CT) and CHD risk factors in five serial cross-sectional samples of men and women from four race/ethnic groups, aged 55–84 and without clinical cardiovascular disease, who were members of Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) cohort from 2000 to 2012. Sample sizes ranged from 1062 to 4837. After adjusting for age, gender, and CT scanner, the prevalence of CAC increased across exams among African Americans, whose prevalence of CAC was 52.4% in 2000–02, 50.4% in 2003–04, 60.0% is 2005–06, 57.4% in 2007–08, and 61.3% in 2010–12 (p for trend <0.001). The trend was strongest among African Americans aged 55–64 [prevalence ratio for 2010–12 vs. 2000–02, 1.59 (95% confidence interval 1.06, 2.39); p = 0.005 for trend across exams]. There were no consistent trends in any other ethnic group. Risk factors generally improved in the cohort, and adjustment for risk factors did not change trends in CAC prevalence.
There was a significant secular trend towards increased prevalence of CAC over 10 years among African Americans and no change in three other ethnic groups. Trends did not reflect concurrent general improvement in risk factors. The trend towards a higher prevalence of CAC in African Americans suggests that CHD risk in this population is not improving relative to other groups.
Exposure measurement error is a concern in long-term PM2.5 health studies using ambient concentrations as exposures. We assessed error magnitude by estimating calibration coefficients as the association between personal PM2.5 exposures from validation studies and typically available surrogate exposures.
Daily personal and ambient PM2.5, and when available sulfate, measurements were compiled from nine cities, over 2 to 12 days. True exposure was defined as personal exposure to PM2.5 of ambient origin. Since PM2.5 of ambient origin could only be determined for five cities, personal exposure to total PM2.5 was also considered. Surrogate exposures were estimated as ambient PM2.5 at the nearest monitor or predicted outside subjects’ homes. We estimated calibration coefficients by regressing true on surrogate exposures in random effects models.
When monthly-averaged personal PM2.5 of ambient origin was used as the true exposure, calibration coefficients equaled 0.31 (95% CI:0.14, 0.47) for nearest monitor and 0.54 (95% CI:0.42, 0.65) for outdoor home predictions. Between-city heterogeneity was not found for outdoor home PM2.5 for either true exposure. Heterogeneity was significant for nearest monitor PM2.5, for both true exposures, but not after adjusting for city-average motor vehicle number for total personal PM2.5.
Calibration coefficients were <1, consistent with previously reported chronic health risks using nearest monitor exposures being under-estimated when ambient concentrations are the exposure of interest. Calibration coefficients were closer to 1 for outdoor home predictions, likely reflecting less spatial error. Further research is needed to determine how our findings can be incorporated in future health studies.
Exposure measurement error; Fine particles; Fine particles of ambient origin; Monitoring data; Spatio-temporal models
Diesel exhaust (DE) exposures are very common, yet exposure-related symptoms haven’t been rigorously examined.
Describe symptomatic responses to freshly generated and diluted DE and filtered air (FA) in a controlled human exposure setting; assess whether such responses are altered by perception of exposure.
43 subjects participated within three double-blind crossover experiments to order-randomized DE exposure levels (FA and DE calibrated at 100 and/or 200 micrograms/m3 particulate matter of diameter less than 2.5 microns), and completed questionnaires regarding symptoms and dose perception.
For a given symptom cluster, the majority of those exposed to moderate concentrations of diesel exhaust do not report such symptoms. The most commonly reported symptom cluster was of the nose (29%). Blinding to exposure is generally effective. Perceived exposure, rather than true exposure, is the dominant modifier of symptom reporting.
Controlled human exposure to moderate-dose diesel exhaust is associated with a range of mild symptoms, though the majority of individuals will not experience any given symptom. Blinding to DE exposure is generally effective. Perceived DE exposure, rather than true DE exposure, is the dominant modifier of symptom reporting.
This study evaluated the association of long- and short-term air pollutant exposures with flow-mediated dilation (FMD) and baseline arterial diameter (BAD) of the brachial artery using ultrasound in a large multicity cohort.
Exposures to ambient air pollution, especially long-term exposure to particulate matter <2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5), are linked with cardiovascular mortality. Short-term exposure to PM2.5 has been associated with decreased FMD and vasoconstriction, suggesting that adverse effects of PM2.5 may involve endothelial dysfunction. However, long-term effects of PM2.5 on endothelial dysfunction have not been investigated.
FMD and BAD were measured by brachial artery ultrasound at the initial examination of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Long-term PM2.5 concentrations were estimated for the year 2000 at each participant’s residence (n = 3,040) using a spatio-temporal model informed by cohort-specific monitoring. Short-term PM2.5 concentrations were based on daily central-site monitoring in each of the 6 cities.
An interquartile increase in long-term PM2.5 concentration (3 μg/m3) was associated with a 0.3% decrease in FMD (95% confidence interval [CI] of difference: −0.6 to −0.03; p = 0.03), adjusting for demographic characteristics, traditional risk factors, sonographers, and 1/BAD. Women, nonsmokers, younger participants, and those with hypertension seemed to show a greater association of PM2.5 with FMD. FMD was not significantly associated with short-term variation in PM2.5 (−0.1% per 12 μg/m3 daily increase [95% CI: −0.2 to 0.04] on the day before examination).
Long-term PM2.5 exposure was significantly associated with decreased endothelial function according to brachial ultrasound results. These findings may elucidate an important pathway linking air pollution and cardiovascular mortality.
air pollution; atherosclerosis; cardiovascular mortality; endothelial function; flow-mediated dilation; traffic
Background: Although research has shown that low socioeconomic status (SES) and minority communities have higher exposure to air pollution, few studies have simultaneously investigated the associations of individual and neighborhood SES with pollutants across multiple sites.
Objectives: We characterized the distribution of ambient air pollution by both individual and neighborhood SES using spatial regression methods.
Methods: The study population comprised 6,140 participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Year 2000 annual average ambient PM2.5 and NOx concentrations were calculated for each study participant’s home address at baseline examination. We investigated individual and neighborhood (2000 U.S. Census tract level) SES measures corresponding to the domains of income, wealth, education, and occupation. We used a spatial intrinsic conditional autoregressive model for multivariable analysis and examined pooled and metropolitan area–specific models.
Results: A 1-unit increase in the z-score for family income was associated with 0.03-μg/m3 lower PM2.5 (95% CI: –0.05, –0.01) and 0.93% lower NOx (95% CI: –1.33, –0.53) after adjustment for covariates. A 1-SD–unit increase in the neighborhood’s percentage of persons with at least a high school degree was associated with 0.47-μg/m3 lower mean PM2.5 (95% CI: –0.55, –0.40) and 9.61% lower NOx (95% CI: –10.85, –8.37). Metropolitan area–specific results exhibited considerable heterogeneity. For example, in New York, high-SES neighborhoods were associated with higher concentrations of pollution.
Conclusions: We found statistically significant associations of SES measures with predicted air pollutant concentrations, demonstrating the importance of accounting for neighborhood- and individual-level SES in air pollution health effects research.
Citation: Hajat A, Diez-Roux AV, Adar SD, Auchincloss AH, Lovasi GS, O’Neill MS, Sheppard L, Kaufman JD. 2013. Air pollution and individual and neighborhood socioeconomic status: evidence from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Environ Health Perspect 121:1325–1333; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1206337
Accumulating evidence suggests that outdoor air pollution may have a significant impact on central nervous system (CNS) health and disease. To address this issue, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences/National Institute of Health convened a panel of research scientists that was assigned the task of identifying research gaps and priority goals essential for advancing this growing field and addressing an emerging human health concern. Here, we review recent findings that have established the effects of inhaled air pollutants in the brain, explore the potential mechanisms driving these phenomena, and discuss the recommended research priorities/approaches that were identified by the panel.
Air pollution; brain; particulate matter; ozone; central nervous system; susceptibility; epidemiology; neuroinflammation; neurotoxicity; behavior
Background: Studies estimating health effects of long-term air pollution exposure often use a two-stage approach: building exposure models to assign individual-level exposures, which are then used in regression analyses. This requires accurate exposure modeling and careful treatment of exposure measurement error.
Objective: To illustrate the importance of accounting for exposure model characteristics in two-stage air pollution studies, we considered a case study based on data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).
Methods: We built national spatial exposure models that used partial least squares and universal kriging to estimate annual average concentrations of four PM2.5 components: elemental carbon (EC), organic carbon (OC), silicon (Si), and sulfur (S). We predicted PM2.5 component exposures for the MESA cohort and estimated cross-sectional associations with carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), adjusting for subject-specific covariates. We corrected for measurement error using recently developed methods that account for the spatial structure of predicted exposures.
Results: Our models performed well, with cross-validated R2 values ranging from 0.62 to 0.95. Naïve analyses that did not account for measurement error indicated statistically significant associations between CIMT and exposure to OC, Si, and S. EC and OC exhibited little spatial correlation, and the corrected inference was unchanged from the naïve analysis. The Si and S exposure surfaces displayed notable spatial correlation, resulting in corrected confidence intervals (CIs) that were 50% wider than the naïve CIs, but that were still statistically significant.
Conclusion: The impact of correcting for measurement error on health effect inference is concordant with the degree of spatial correlation in the exposure surfaces. Exposure model characteristics must be considered when performing two-stage air pollution epidemiologic analyses because naïve health effect inference may be inappropriate.
Citation: Bergen S, Sheppard L, Sampson PD, Kim SY, Richards M, Vedal S, Kaufman JD, Szpiro AA. 2013. A national prediction model for PM2.5 component exposures and measurement error–corrected health effect inference. Environ Health Perspect 121:1017–1025; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1206010
Neighborhood characteristics, such as healthy food availability, have been associated with consumption of healthy food. Little is known about the influence of the local food environment on other dietary choices, such as the decision to consume organic food. We analyzed the associations between organic produce consumption and demographic, socioeconomic and neighborhood characteristics in 4,064 participants aged 53–94 in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis using log-binomial regression models. Participants were classified as consuming organic produce if they reported eating organic fruits and vegetables either “sometimes” or “often or always”. Women were 21% more likely to consume organic produce than men (confidence interval [CI]: 1.12–1.30), and the likelihood of organic produce consumption was 13% less with each additional 10 years of age (CI: 0.84–0.91). Participants with higher education were significantly more likely to consume organic produce (prevalence ratios [PR] were 1.05 with a high school education, 1.39 with a bachelor's degree and 1.68 with a graduate degree, with less than high school as the reference group [1.00]). Per capita household income was marginally associated with produce consumption (p = 0.06), with the highest income category more likely to consume organic produce. After adjustment for these individual factors, organic produce consumption was significantly associated with self-reported assessment of neighborhood produce availability (PR: 1.07, CI: 1.02–1.11), with an aggregated measure of community perception of the local food environment (PR: 1.08, CI: 1.00–1.17), and, to a lesser degree, with supermarket density (PR: 1.02: CI: 0.99–1.05). This research suggests that both individual-level characteristics and qualities of the local food environment are associated with having a diet that includes organic food.
Current day concentrations of ambient air pollution have been associated with a range of adverse health effects, particularly mortality and morbidity due to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. In this review, we summarize the evidence from epidemiological studies on long-term exposure to fine and coarse particles, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and elemental carbon on mortality from all-causes, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease. We also summarize the findings on potentially susceptible subgroups across studies. We identified studies through a search in the databases Medline and Scopus and previous reviews until January 2013 and performed a meta-analysis if more than five studies were available for the same exposure metric.
There is a significant number of new studies on long-term air pollution exposure, covering a wider geographic area, including Asia. These recent studies support associations found in previous cohort studies on PM2.5. The pooled effect estimate expressed as excess risk per 10 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 exposure was 6% (95% CI 4, 8%) for all-cause and 11% (95% CI 5, 16%) for cardiovascular mortality. Long-term exposure to PM2.5 was more associated with mortality from cardiovascular disease (particularly ischemic heart disease) than from non-malignant respiratory diseases (pooled estimate 3% (95% CI −6, 13%)). Significant heterogeneity in PM2.5 effect estimates was found across studies, likely related to differences in particle composition, infiltration of particles indoors, population characteristics and methodological differences in exposure assessment and confounder control. All-cause mortality was significantly associated with elemental carbon (pooled estimate per 1 μg/m3 6% (95% CI 5, 7%)) and NO2 (pooled estimate per 10 μg/m3 5% (95% CI 3, 8%)), both markers of combustion sources. There was little evidence for an association between long term coarse particulate matter exposure and mortality, possibly due to the small number of studies and limitations in exposure assessment. Across studies, there was little evidence for a stronger association among women compared to men. In subjects with lower education and obese subjects a larger effect estimate for mortality related to fine PM was found, though the evidence for differences related to education has been weakened in more recent studies.
Air pollution; Mortality; Motorized traffic; Cardiovascular; Respiratory; Particles
Exposure to traffic-related air pollution is associated with risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. We examined whether exposure to diesel exhaust increased blood pressure in human subjects.
We analyzed data from 45 nonsmoking subjects, age 18–49 in double-blinded, crossover exposure studies, randomized to order. Each subject was exposed to diesel exhaust, maintained at 200 μg/m3 of fine particulate matter, and filtered air for 120 minutes on days separated by at least two weeks. We measured blood pressure pre-exposure, at 30-minute intervals during exposure, and 3, 5, 7 and 24 hours from exposure initiation, and analyzed changes from pre-exposure values.
Compared with filtered air, systolic blood pressure increased at all points measured during and after diesel exhaust exposure; the mean effect peaked between 30 and 60 minutes after exposure initiation (3.8 mmHg [95% CI: −0.4, 8.0] and 5.1 mmHg [95% CI: 0.7, 9.5] respectively). Sex and metabolic syndrome did not modify this effect. Combining readings between 30 and 90 minutes, diesel exhaust exposure resulted in a 4.4 mmHg increase in systolic blood pressure, adjusted for participant characteristics and exposure perception (95% CI: 1.1, 7.7, p=0.0009). There was no significant effect on heart rate or diastolic pressure.
Diesel exhaust inhalation was associated with a rapid, measurable increase in systolic, but not diastolic, blood pressure in young nonsmokers, independent of perception of exposure. This controlled trial in humans confirms findings from observational studies. The effect may be important on a population basis given the worldwide prevalence of exposure to traffic-related air pollution.
Air pollution; diesel exhaust; cardiovascular; blood pressure; autonomic nervous system
Concentrations of outdoor fine particulate matter (PM2.5) have been associated with cardiovascular disease. PM2.5 chemical composition may be responsible for effects of exposure to PM2.5.
Using data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) collected in 2000–2002 on 6,256 US adults without clinical cardiovascular disease in six U.S. metropolitan areas, we investigated cross-sectional associations of estimated long-term exposure to total PM2.5 mass and PM2.5 components (elemental carbon [EC], organic carbon [OC], silicon and sulfur) with measures of subclinical atherosclerosis (coronary artery calcium [CAC] and right common carotid intima-media thickness [CIMT]). Community monitors deployed for this study from 2007 to 2008 were used to estimate exposures at baseline addresses using three commonly-used approaches: (1) nearest monitor (the primary approach), (2) inverse-distance monitor weighting and (3) city-wide average.
Using the exposure estimate based on nearest monitor, in single-pollutant models, increased OC (effect estimate [95% CI] per IQR: 35.1 μm [26.8, 43.3]), EC (9.6 μm [3.6,15.7]), sulfur (22.7 μm [15.0,30.4]) and total PM2.5 (14.7 μm [9.0,20.5]) but not silicon (5.2 μm [−9.8,20.1]), were associated with increased CIMT; in two-pollutant models, only the association with OC was robust to control for the other pollutants. Findings were generally consistent across the three exposure estimation approaches. None of the PM measures were positively associated with either the presence or extent of CAC. In sensitivity analyses, effect estimates for OC and silicon were particularly sensitive to control for metropolitan area.
Employing commonly-used exposure estimation approaches, all of the PM2.5 components considered, except silicon, were associated with increased CIMT, with the evidence being strongest for OC; no component was associated with increased CAC. PM2.5 chemical components, or other features of the sources that produced them, may be important in determining the effect of PM exposure on atherosclerosis. These cross-sectional findings await confirmation in future work employing longitudinal outcome measures and using more sophisticated approaches to estimating exposure.
Atherosclerosis; Cardiovascular diseases; Coronary artery disease; Air pollution; Particulate matter
Short-term exposure to air pollution may affect ventricular repolarization, but there is limited information on how long-term exposures might affect the surface ventricular electrocardiographic (ECG) abnormalities associated with cardiovascular events. We carried out a study to determine whether long-term air pollution exposure is associated with abnormalities of ventricular repolarization and conduction in adults without known cardiovascular disease.
A total of 4783 participants free of clinical cardiovascular disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis underwent 12-lead ECG examinations, cardiac-computed tomography and calcium scoring, as well as estimation of air pollution exposure using a finely resolved spatio-temporal model to determine long-term average individual exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and proximity to major roadways. We assessed ventricular electrical abnormalities including presence of QT prolongation (Rautaharju QTrr criteria) and intraventricular conduction delay (QRS duration > 120 msec). We used logistic regression to determine the adjusted relationship between air pollution exposures and ECG abnormalities.
A 10 µg/m3-increase in estimated residential PM2.5 was associated with an increased odds of prevalent QT prolongation (adjusted odds ratio [OR]= 1.6 [95% confidence interval (CI)= 1.2 to 2.2]) and intraventricular conduction delay (OR 1.7, 95% CI: 1.0 to 2.6, independent of coronary-artery calcium score. Living near major roadways was not associated with ventricular electrical abnormalities. No significant evidence of effect modification by traditional risk factors or study site was observed.
This study demonstrates an association between long-term exposure to air pollution and ventricular repolarization and conduction abnormalities in adults without clinical cardiovascular disease, independent of subclinical coronary arterial calcification.