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

Teresa Chahine, Andrea Baccarelli, Augusto Litonjua, Robert O. Wright, Helen Suh, Diane R. Gold, David Sparrow, Pantel Vokonas, Joel Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: We have previously shown that reduced defenses against oxidative stress due to glutathione S-transferase M1 (GSTM1) deletion modify the effects of PM2.5 (fineparticulate air pollution of < 2.5 μm 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. METHODS: 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 PM2.5 concentrations in the 48 hr preceding HRV measurement, controlling for confounders and a random subject effect. RESULTS: PM2.5 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 PM2.5 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 μg/m3 increase in PM. CONCLUSIONS: Oxidative stress is an important pathway for the autonomic effects of particles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1617-1622
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Air particles
  • Air pollution
  • Cardiovascular health
  • GST
  • Genetic variation
  • HMOX-1
  • Heart rate variability
  • PM


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