Ambient BTEX exposure and mid-pregnancy inflammatory biomarkers in pregnant African American women

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Journal of reproductive immunology


Air pollution is associated with preterm birth (PTB), potentially via inflammation. We recently showed the mixture benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX) is associated with PTB. We examined if ambient BTEX exposure is associated with mid-pregnancy inflammation in a sample of 140 African-American women residing in Detroit, Michigan. The Geospatial Determinants of Health Outcomes Consortium study collected outdoor air pollution measurements in Detroit; these data were coupled with Michigan Air Sampling Network measurements to develop monthly BTEX concentration estimates at a spatial density of 300 m(2). First trimester and mid-pregnancy BTEX exposure estimates were assigned to maternal address. Mid-pregnancy (mean 21.3 ± 3.7 weeks gestation) inflammatory biomarkers (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, interleukin [IL]-6, IL-10, IL-1β, and tumor necrosis factor-α) were measured with enzyme immunoassays. After covariate adjustment, for every 1-unit increase in first trimester BTEX, there was an expected mean increase in log-transformed IL-1β of 0.05 ± 0.02 units (P = 0.014) and an expected mean increase in log-transformed tumor necrosis factor-α of 0.07 ± 0.02 units (P = 0.006). Similarly, for every 1-unit increase in mid-pregnancy BTEX, there was a mean increase in log IL-1β of 0.06 ± 0.03 units (P = 0.027). There was no association of either first trimester or mid-pregnancy BTEX with high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, IL-10, or IL-6 (all P > 0.05). Ambient BTEX exposure is associated with inflammation in mid-pregnancy in African-American women. Future studies examining if inflammation mediates associations between BTEX exposure and PTB are needed.

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