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Environ Health Perspect. 2007 Nov;115(11):1617-22.

Particulate air pollution, oxidative stress genes, and heart rate variability in an elderly cohort.

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Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.



We have previously shown that reduced defenses against oxidative stress due to glutathione S-transferase M1 (GSTM1) deletion modify the effects of PM(2.5) (fine-particulate air pollution of < 2.5 microm in aerodynamic diameter) on heart rate variability (HRV) in a cross-sectional analysis of the Normative Aging Study, an elderly cohort. We have extended this to include a longitudinal analysis with more subjects and examination of the GT short tandem repeat polymorphism in the heme oxygenase-1 (HMOX-1) promoter.


HRV measurements were taken on 539 subjects. Linear mixed effects models were fit for the logarithm of HRV metrics-including standard deviation of normal-to-normal intervals (SDNN), high frequency (HF), and low frequency (LF)-and PM(2.5) concentrations in the 48 hr preceding HRV measurement, controlling for confounders and a random subject effect.


PM(2.5) was significantly associated with SDNN (p = 0.04) and HF (p = 0.03) in all subjects. There was no association in subjects with GSTM1, whereas there was a significant association with SDNN, HF, and LF in subjects with the deletion. Similarly, there was no association with any HRV measure in subjects with the short repeat variant of HMOX-1, and significant associations in subjects with any long repeat. We found a significant three-way interaction of PM(2.5) with GSTM1 and HMOX-1 determining SDNN (p = 0.008), HF (p = 0.01) and LF (p = 0.04). In subjects with the GSTM1 deletion and the HMOX-1 long repeat, SDNN decreased by 13% [95% confidence interval (CI), -21% to -4%], HF decreased by 28% (95% CI, -43% to -9%), and LF decreased by 20% (95% CI, -35% to -3%) per 10 microg/m(3) increase in PM.


Oxidative stress is an important pathway for the autonomic effects of particles.


GST; HMOX-1; PM2.5; air particles; air pollution; cardiovascular health; genetic variation; heart rate variability

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