Exploring telomere length in mother-newborn pairs in relation to exposure to multiple toxic metals and potential modifying effects by nutritional factors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: The uterine environment may influence telomere length at birth, which is essential for cellular function, aging, and disease susceptibility over the lifespan. However, little is known about the impact of toxic chemicals on early-life telomeres. Therefore, we assessed the potential impact of multiple toxic metals on relative telomere length (rTL) in the maternal blood, cord blood, and placenta, as well as the potential modifying effects of pro-oxidants. Method: In a mother-child cohort in northern Argentina (n = 169), we measured multiple toxic metals in the maternal blood or urine collected during late pregnancy, as well as the placenta and cord blood collected at delivery, using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). We assessed associations of log 2 -transformed metal concentrations with rTL, measured in maternal and cord blood leukocytes and the placenta by real-time PCR, using multivariable-adjusted linear regression. Additionally, we tested for modifications by antioxidants (zinc, selenium, folate, and vitamin D 3 ). Results: Exposure to boron and antimony during pregnancy was associated with shorter maternal rTL, and lithium with longer maternal rTL; a doubling of exposure was associated with changes corresponding to 0.2-0.4 standard deviations (SD) of the rTL. Arsenic concentrations in the placenta (n = 98), blood, and urine were positively associated with placental rTL, about 0.2 SD by doubled arsenic. In the cord blood (n = 88), only lead was associated with rTL (inversely), particularly in boys (p for interaction 0.09). Stratifying by newborn sex showed ten times stronger association in boys (about 0.6 SD) than in girls. The studied antioxidants did not modify the associations, except that with antimony. Conclusions: Elevated exposure to boron, lithium, arsenic, and antimony was associated with maternal or newborn rTL in a tissue-specific, for lead also sex-specific, manner. Nutritional antioxidants did not generally influence the associations.

Details

Authors
  • Maria Herlin
  • Karin Broberg
  • Annachiara Malin Igra
  • Huiqi Li
  • Florencia Harari
  • Marie Vahter
Organisations
External organisations
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • Sahlgrenska University Hospital
  • University of Gothenburg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health

Keywords

  • Antimony, Arsenic, Boron, Early life programming, Lead, Lithium, Nutrients, Telomeres, Zinc
Original languageEnglish
Article number77
JournalBMC Medicine
Volume17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Apr 11
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes