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Cumulative PM(2.5) exposure and telomere length in workers exposed to welding fumes.

Authors: Jason Y Y JY. Wong, Immaculata I. De Vivo, Xihong X. Lin, David C DC. Christiani
Published: 03/17/2014, Journal of toxicology and environmental health. Part A


Telomeres are genomic structures that reflect both mitotic history and biochemical trauma to the genome. Metals inherent in fine particulate matter (PM(2.5)) were shown to be genotoxic via oxidative damage. However, few studies investigated the induction time of cumulative PM(2.5) exposure on telomere length in a longitudinal setting. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess the association between occupational PM(2.5) exposure in various time windows and telomere length. The study population consisted of 48 boilermakers and the follow-up period was 8 yr. The main exposures were cumulative occupational PM(2.5) in the month, year, and career prior to each blood draw, assessed via work history questionnaires and area air measures. Repeated telomere length measurements from leukocytes were assessed via real-time qualitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Analysis was performed using linear mixed models controlling for confounders and white blood cell differentials. Cumulative PM(2.5) exposure was treated continuously and categorized into quartiles, in separate analyses. At any follow-up time, for each milligram per cubic meter per hour increase in cumulative PM(2.5) exposure in the prior month, there was a statistically significant decrease in relative telomere length of -0.04 units. When categorizing the exposure into quartiles, there was a significant negative association between telomere length and highest quartile of cumulative PM(2.5) exposure in the prior month (-0.16). These findings suggest that genomic trauma to leukocyte telomeres was more consistent with recent occupational PM(2.5) exposure, as opposed to cumulative exposure extending into the distant past.

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