Organic Pollutants Up Atherosclerosis Risk in Elderly

Polychlorinated biphenyls tied to echogenicity of the intima-media complex

THURSDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Circulating levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), are associated with atherosclerotic plaques and echogenicity of the intima-media complex in the elderly, independent of cardiovascular risk factors, according to a study published online Oct. 11 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

P. Monica Lind, Ph.D., from Uppsala University in Sweden, and colleagues investigated whether circulating levels of POPs were associated with atherosclerosis in 1,016 participants (aged 70 years) from the Prospective Investigation of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors study. The presence of plaques in none, one, or both the carotid arteries was recorded by ultrasound. Intima-media complex thickness (IMT) and grey scale (IM-GSM) were measured. High-resolution chromatography and mass spectrometry were used to analyze 23 POPs, including 16 PCBs, five pesticides, one brominated compound, and one dioxin.

The investigators found that even after adjustment for multiple risk factors (gender, waist circumference, body mass index, fasting blood glucose, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, high and low density lipoprotein cholesterol, serum triglycerides, smoking, antihypertensive treatment, and statin use), seven of the POPs (PCB congeners 153, 156, 157, 170, 180, 206, and 209) were significantly associated with the number of carotid arteries with plaques. After adjusting for risk factors, highly chlorinated PCBs (194, 206, 209) correlated significantly with echolucent IM-GSM, while POPs were modestly associated with IMT.

"Several of the individual PCBs, as well as the sum of the PCBs, were associated with presence of carotid artery plaques. Some of the highly chlorinated PCBs were also associated with the echogenicity of the intima-media complex," the authors write.


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