Identifying sensitive windows for prenatal particulate air pollution exposure and mitochondrial DNA content in cord blood

Maria José Rosa, Allan C. Just, Marco Sánchez Guerra, Itai Kloog, Hsiao Hsien Leon Hsu, Kasey J. Brennan, Adriana Mercado García, Brent Coull, Rosalind J. Wright, Martha María Téllez Rojo, Andrea A. Baccarelli, Robert O. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Introduction Changes in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) can serve as a marker of cumulative oxidative stress (OS) due to the mitochondria's unique genome and relative lack of repair systems. In utero particulate matter ≤ 2.5 μm (PM2.5) exposure can enhance oxidative stress. Our objective was to identify sensitive windows to predict mtDNA damage experienced in the prenatal period due to PM2.5 exposure using mtDNA content measured in cord blood. Material and methods Women affiliated with the Mexican social security system were recruited during pregnancy in the Programming Research in Obesity, Growth, Environment and Social Stressors (PROGRESS) study. Mothers with cord blood collected at delivery and complete covariate data were included (n = 456). Mothers' prenatal daily exposure to PM2.5 was estimated using a satellite-based spatio-temporally resolved prediction model and place of residence during pregnancy. DNA was extracted from umbilical cord leukocytes. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was used to determine mtDNA content. A distributive lag regression model (DLM) incorporating weekly averages of daily PM2.5 predictions was constructed to plot the association between exposure and OS over the length of pregnancy. Results In models that included child's sex, mother's age at delivery, prenatal environmental tobacco smoke exposure, birth year, maternal education, and assay batch, we found significant associations between higher PM2.5 exposure during late pregnancy (35–40 weeks) and lower mtDNA content in cord blood. Conclusions Increased PM2.5 during a specific prenatal window in the third trimester was associated with decreased mtDNA content suggesting heightened sensitivity to PM-induced OS during this life stage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-203
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironment international
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Distributive lag models
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Particulate matter
  • Prenatal exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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