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1.  Modifying Effects of the HFE Polymorphisms on the Association between Lead Burden and Cognitive Decline 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2007;115(8):1210-1215.
As iron and lead promote oxidative damage, and hemochromatosis (HFE) gene polymorphisms increase body iron burden, HFE variant alleles may modify the lead burden and cognitive decline relationship.
Our goal was to assess the modifying effects of HFE variants on the lead burden and cognitive decline relation in older adults.
We measured tibia and patella lead using K-X-ray fluorescence (1991–1999) among participants of the Normative Aging Study, a longitudinal study of community-dwelling men from greater Boston. We assessed cognitive function with the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) twice (1993–1998 and 1995–2000) and genotyped participants for HFE polymorphisms. We estimated the adjusted mean differences in lead-associated annual cognitive decline across HFE genotype groups (n = 358).
Higher tibia lead was associated with steeper cognitive decline among participants with at least one HFE variant allele compared with men with only wild-type alleles (p interaction = 0.03), such that a 15 μg/g increase in tibia lead was associated with a 0.2 point annual decrement in MMSE score among HFE variant allele carriers. This difference in scores among men with at least one variant allele was comparable to the difference in baseline MMSE scores that we observed among men who were 4 years apart in age. Moreover, the deleterious association between tibia lead and cognitive decline appeared progressively worse in participants with increasingly more copies of HFE variant alleles (p-trend = 0.008). Results for patella lead were similar.
Our findings suggest that HFE polymorphisms greatly enhance susceptibility to lead-related cognitive impairment in a pattern consistent with allelelic dose.
PMCID: PMC1940090  PMID: 17687449
cognitive decline; epidemiology; HFE; lead; longitudinal studies; neuropsychologic tests
2.  A Brief Targeted Review of Susceptibility Factors, Environmental Exposures, Asthma Incidence, and Recommendations for Future Asthma Incidence Research 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2006;114(4):634-640.
Relative to research on effects of environmental exposures on exacerbation of existing asthma, little research on incident asthma and environmental exposures has been conducted. However, this research is needed to better devise strategies for the prevention of asthma. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences held a conference in October 2004 to collaboratively discuss a future research agenda in this area. The first three articles in this mini-monograph summarize the discussion on potential putative environmental exposure; they include an overview of asthma and conclusions of the workshop participants with respect to public health actions that could currently be applied to the problem and research needs to better understand and control the induction and incidence of asthma, the potential role of indoor/outdoor air pollutants in the induction of asthma), and biologics in the induction of asthma. Susceptibility is a key concept in the U.S. EPA “Asthma Research Strategy” document and is associated with the U.S. EPA framework of protecting vulnerable populations from potentially harmful environmental exposures. Genetics, age, and lifestyle (obesity, diet) are major susceptibility factors in the induction of asthma and can interact with environmental exposures either synergistically or antagonistically. Therefore, in this fourth and last article we consider a number of “susceptibility factors” that potentially influence the asthmatic response to environmental exposures and propose a framework for developing research hypotheses regarding the effects of environmental exposures on asthma incidence and induction.
PMCID: PMC1440793  PMID: 16581558
asthma; epidemiology; genetics; hygiene hypothesis; incidence; obesity; occupational asthma; smoking; susceptibility; windows of exposure and age (in utero, childhood, adult, elderly)
3.  Association between hemochromatosis genotype and lead exposure among elderly men: the normative aging study. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2004;112(6):746-750.
Because body iron burden is inversely associated with lead absorption, genes associated with hemochromatosis may modify body lead burden. Our objective was to determine whether the C282Y and/or H63D hemochromatosis gene (HFE) is associated with body lead burden. Patella and tibia lead levels were measured by K X-ray fluorescence in subjects from the Normative Aging Study. DNA samples were genotyped for C282Y and H63D using polymerase chain reaction/restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR/RFLP). A series of multivariate linear regression models were constructed with bone or blood lead as dependent variables; age, smoking, and education as independent variables; and C282Y or H63D as independent risk factors and/or effect modifiers. Of 730 subjects, 94 (13%) carried the C282Y variant and 183 (25%) carried the H63D variant. In the crude analysis, mean tibia, patella, and blood lead levels were consistently lower in carriers of either HFE variant compared with levels in subjects with wild-type genotypes. In multivariate analyses that adjusted for age, smoking, and education, having an HFE variant allele was an independent predictor of significantly lower patella lead levels (p < 0.05). These data suggest that HFE variants have altered kinetics of lead accumulation after exposure. Among elderly men, subjects with HFE variants had lower patella lead levels. These effects may be mediated by alterations in lead toxicokinetics via iron metabolic pathways regulated by the HFE gene product and body iron stores.
PMCID: PMC1241970  PMID: 15121519
4.  A delta-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase (ALAD) polymorphism may modify the relationship of low-level lead exposure to uricemia and renal function: the normative aging study. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2003;111(3):335-341.
In this study we investigated whether a known delta-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase (ALAD) exon 4 polymorphism has a modifying effect on the association of blood or bone lead level with uricemia and indices of renal function among middle-aged and elderly men. We performed a cross-sectional study of subjects who participated between 1991 and 1995 in the Department of Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study. Information on blood lead levels, bone lead levels (measured by K-shell X-ray fluorescence), serum uric acid, serum creatinine, estimated creatinine clearance, and ALAD polymorphism status was available in 709 subjects. Regression models were constructed to examine the relationships of serum uric acid, serum creatinine, and estimated creatinine clearance to blood or bone lead level, stratified by genotype. We also adjusted for age, body mass index, blood pressure, smoking, alcohol consumption, and ingestion of analgesic medications (n = 638). Of the 709 subjects, 7 (1%) and 107 (15%) were homozygous and heterozygous for the variant (ALAD-2) allele, respectively. The mean (range) serum uric acid and creatinine levels were 6.5 (2.9-10.6) and 1.2 (0.6-2.5) mg/dL. No significant differences were found in serum uric acid, serum creatinine, or estimated creatinine clearance by ALAD genotype. However, after adjusting for other potential confounders, we found a significant linear relationship between serum uric acid and patella bone lead (p = 0.040) among the ALAD 1-2/2-2 genotype individuals above a threshold patellar lead level of 15 micro g/g. In contrast, among the wild-type (ALAD 1-1) individuals, there was a suggestion of a significant linear relationship of serum uric acid with patella bone lead (p = 0.141), but only after a threshold of 101 micro g/g. There was evidence of a significant (p = 0.025) interaction of tibia lead with genotype (ALAD 1-1 vs. ALAD 1-2/2-2) regarding serum creatinine as an outcome, but in the same linear regression model tibia lead alone was not a significant predictor of serum creatinine. Conversely, for estimated creatinine clearance, patella lead, but not the interaction of patella lead with genotype, was a significantly independent predictor (p = 0.026). Our findings suggest that ALAD genotype may modify the effect of lead on the renal excretion of uric acid as well as overall renal function among middle-aged and elderly men who had community (nonoccupational) exposures to lead. Additional research is needed to ascertain whether this constitutes a true gene-environment interaction and, if so, its clinical impact.
PMCID: PMC1241391  PMID: 12611663

Results 1-4 (4)