Background: Short-duration exposure to ambient particulate matter (PM) air pollution is associated with cardiac autonomic dysfunction and prolonged ventricular repolarization. However, associations with sub-chronic exposures to coarser particulates are relatively poorly characterized as are molecular mechanisms underlying their potential relationships with cardiovascular disease. Materials and methods: We estimated associations between monthly mean concentrations of PM < 10 μm and 2.5–10 μm in diameter (PM10; PM2.5-10) with time-domain measures of heart rate variability (HRV) and QT interval duration (QT) among U.S. women and men in the Women's Health Initiative and Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (nHRV = 82,107; nQT = 76,711). Then we examined mediation of the PM-HRV and PM-QT associations by DNA methylation (DNAm) at three Cytosine-phosphate-Guanine (CpG) sites (cg19004594, cg24102420, cg12124767) with known sensitivity to monthly mean PM concentrations in a subset of the participants (nHRV = 7,169; nQT = 6,895). After multiply imputing missing PM, electrocardiographic and covariable data, we estimated associations using attrition-weighted, linear, mixed, longitudinal models adjusting for sociodemographic, behavioral, meteorological, and clinical characteristics. We assessed mediation by estimating the proportions of PM-HRV and PM-QT associations mediated by DNAm. Results: We found little evidence of PM-HRV association, PM-QT association, or mediation by DNAm. Conclusions: The findings suggest that among racially/ethnically and environmentally diverse U.S. populations, sub-chronic exposures to coarser particulates may not exert appreciable, epigenetically mediated effects on cardiac autonomic function or ventricular repolarization. Further investigation in better-powered studies is warranted, with additional focus on shorter duration exposures to finer particulates and non-electrocardiographic outcomes among relatively susceptible populations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Science(all)