Joint effect of multiple air pollutants on cardiometabolic health in normal-weight and obese adults: A novel insight into the role of circulating free fatty acids

Wenlou Zhang, Wanzhou Wang, Luyi Li, Mark R Miller, Liyan Cui, Junxiu Liu, Wang Yang, Dayu Hu, Shan Liu, Junhui Xu, Shaowei Wu, Junchao Duan, Zhiwei Sun, Xinbiao Guo, Furong Deng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The cardiometabolic effects of air pollution in the context of mixtures and the underlying mechanisms remain not fully understood. This study aims to investigate the joint effect of air pollutant mixtures on a broad range of cardiometabolic parameters, examine the susceptibility of obese individuals, and determine the role of circulating fatty acids. In this panel study, metabolically healthy normal-weight (MH-NW, n=49) and obese (MHO, n=39) adults completed three longitudinal visits (257 person-visits in total). Personal exposure levels of PM2.5, PM10, O3, NO2, SO2, CO and BC were estimated based on fixed-site monitoring data, time-activity logs and infiltration factor method. Blood pressure, glycemic homeostasis, lipid profiles, systematic inflammation and coagulation biomarkers were measured. Targeted metabolomics was used to quantify twenty-eight plasma free fatty acids (FFAs). Bayesian kernel machine regression models were applied to establish the exposure-response relationships and identify key pollutants. Significant joint effects of measured air pollutants on systematic inflammation and coagulation biomarkers were observed in the MHO group, instead of the MH-NW group. Lipid profiles showed the most significant changes in both groups and O3 contributed the most to the total effect. Specific FFA patterns were identified, and de novo lipogenesis (DNL)-related pattern was most closely related to blood lipid profiles. In particular, interaction analysis suggested that DNL-related FFA pattern augmented the effects of O3 on triglyceride (TG, Pinteraction=0.040), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C, Pinteraction=0.106) and TG/HDL-C (Pinteraction=0.020) in the MHO group but not MH-NW group. This modification was further confirmed by interaction analysis with estimated activity of SCD1, a key enzyme in the DNL pathway. Therefore, despite being metabolically healthy, obese subjects have a higher cardiometabolic susceptibility to air pollution, especially O3, and the DNL pathway may represent an intrinsic driver of lipid susceptibility. This study provides new insights into the cardiometabolic susceptibility of obese individuals to air pollution.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date23 Sept 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Sept 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Ozone
  • Obesit
  • Free fatty acids
  • Lipid profile
  • De novo lipogenesis


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