The molecular effects of intermediate and long-term exposure to air pollution and temperature, such as those on extracellular microRNA (ex-miRNA) are not well understood but may have clinical consequences.
To assess the association between exposure to ambient air pollution and temperature and ex-miRNA profiles.
Our study population consisted of 734 participants in the Normative Aging Study (NAS) between 1999 and 2015. We used high-resolution models to estimate four-week, eight-week, twelve-week, six-month, and one-year moving averages of PM2.5
, and ambient temperature based on geo-coded residential addresses. The outcome of interest was the extracellular microRNA (ex-miRNA) profile of each participant over time. We used a longitudinal quantile regression approach to estimate the association between the exposures and each ex-miRNA. Results were corrected for multiple comparisons and ex-miRNAs that were still significantly associated with the exposures were further analyzed using KEGG pathway analysis and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis.
We found 151 significant associations between levels of PM2.5
, and ambient temperature and 82 unique ex-miRNAs across multiple quantiles. Most of the significant results were associations with intermediate-term exposure to O3
, long-term exposure to PM2.5
, and both intermediate and long-term exposure to ambient temperature. The exposures were most often associated with the 75th and 90th percentile of the outcomes. Pathway analyses of significant ex-miRNAs revealed their involvement in biological pathways involving cell function and communication as well as clinical diseases such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and neurological disease.
Our results show that intermediate and long-term exposure to all our exposures of interest were associated with changes in the ex-miRNA profile of study participants. Further studies on environmental risk factors and ex-miRNAs are warranted.