Long-and short-term exposures to PM10 can shorten telomere length in individuals affected by overweight and obesity

Michele Carugno, Elisa Borroni, Luca Fedrizzi, Mirjam Hoxha, Luisella Vigna, Dario Consonni, Valentina Bollati, Angela Cecilia Pesatori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reduced telomere length (TL) has been associated with increased risk of age-related diseases, most likely through oxidative stress and inflammation, which have also been claimed as mechanisms underlying health effects of air pollution exposure. We aimed to verify whether exposure to particulate matter with diameter ≤10 µm (PM10) affects TL. We recruited 1792 participants with overweight/obesity in Milan (Italy) in 2010–2015 who completed a structured questionnaire on sociodemographic data, gave a blood sample for TL measurement by real-time PCR, and were assigned air pollution and meteorological data of their residential address. In multivariate mixed-effects linear models (with a random intercept on PCR plate), we observed a −0.51% change in TL (95% confidence interval (CI): −0.98; −0.05)) per 10 µg/m3 increase in PM10 at the day of recruitment. A similar decreasing trend in TL was observed up to two weeks before withdrawal, with percentage changes as low as −1.53% (average exposure of the 12 days before recruitment). Mean annual exposure to PM10 was associated with −2.57% TL reduction (95%CI: −5.06; −0.08). By showing consistent associations between short-and long-term PM10 exposures and reduced TL, our findings shed light on the potential mechanisms responsible for the excess of age-related diseases associated with air pollution exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number808
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Air pollution
  • Hyper-susceptible
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Particulate matter (PM)
  • Telomere length (TL)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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