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Long-Term Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution and Serum Leptin in Older Adults: Results From the MOBILIZE Boston Study

Wang, Yi PhD; Eliot, Melissa N. PhD; Kuchel, George A. MD; Schwartz, Joel PhD; Coull, Brent A. PhD; Mittleman, Murray A. MD, DrPH; Lipsitz, Lewis A. MD; Wellenius, Gregory A. ScD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 9 - p e73–e77
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000253
Original Articles

Objective: Long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution has been linked to increased risk of obesity and diabetes and may be associated with higher serum levels of the adipokine leptin, but this hypothesis has not been previously evaluated in humans.

Methods: In a cohort of older adults, we estimated the association between serum leptin concentrations and two markers of long-term exposure to traffic pollution, adjusting for participant characteristics, temporal trends, socioeconomic factors, and medical history.

Results: An interquartile range increase (0.11 μg/m3) in annual mean residential black carbon was associated with 12% (95% confidence interval: 3%, 22%) higher leptin levels. Leptin levels were not associated with residential distance to major roadway.

Conclusions: If confirmed, these findings support the emerging evidence suggesting that certain sources of traffic pollution may be associated with adverse cardiometabolic effects.

From the Department of Epidemiology (Drs Wang, Eliot, and Wellenius), School of Public Health, Brown University, Providence, R.I.; University of Connecticut (Dr Kuchel), Farmington; Department of Environmental Health (Dr Schwartz); Department of Biostatistics (Dr Coull), Harvard School of Public Health; Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit (Dr Mittleman); and the Institute for Aging Research (Dr Lipsitz), Hebrew SeniorLife and Division of Gerontology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass.

Address for correspondence: Gregory A. Wellenius, ScD, Department of Epidemiology, Center for Environmental Health and Technology, Brown University, 121 South Main St, Box G-121S, Room 213, Providence, RI 02912 (

The work was supported by the National Institute of Aging (AG004390, AG25037), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (ES015774, ES009825, ES000002), and the US Environmental Protection Agency (R832416, RD83479801). Dr Lipsitz holds the Irving and Edyth S. Usen and Family Chair in Geriatric Medicine at Hebrew SeniorLife. Dr Wellenius has received consulting fees from Environmental Health and Engineering, Inc, for work unrelated to this manuscript.

Authors Wang, Eliot, Kuchel, Schwartz, Coull, and Mittleman have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

The JOEM editorial board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

The contents of this report are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the sponsoring institutions.

Copyright © 2014 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine