Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

One-Two PM Punch: Gene Combination Increases Vulnerability to Air Pollutant

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

One-Two PM Punch: Gene Combination Increases Vulnerability to Air Pollutant

Article excerpt

Numerous epidemiologic studies have found a link between exposure to fine particles ([PM.sub.2.5]) and increased morbidity and mortality. Other studies have found evidence of some of the specific pathways through which this damage occurs, but much remains unknown about the relative importance of these pathways in humans. An international team of researchers has taken a step toward filling that void through its discovery that the combination of two genetic traits--a deletion of one gene and a polymorphism of another--combine to significantly increase risk of oxidative stress and subsequent cardiovascular disease in some people exposed to [PM.sub.2.5] [EHP 115:1617-1622; Chahine et al.].

One well-known indicator of potential cardiovascular problems is reduced heart rate variability (HRV). When the heart is less able to vary its beat, it can't respond as nimbly to challenges such as pollutants, microbes, or emotional stresses. [PM.sub.2.5] exposure has been linked with reduced HRV, possibly in part by triggering oxidative stress.

Several genes are known to play a role in defending against oxidative stress. Two of these include glutathione S-transferase-M1 (GSTM1) and heme oxygenase-1 (HMOX-1). To determine whether these genes have a link with reduced HRV, the team studied 476 older Boston-area males, almost all white, for whom they had information on the two genes, as well as data for three established indicators of HRV: standard deviation of normal-to-normal intervals (SDNN), variation at high frequency (HF), and variation at low frequency (LF). …

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