Particulate air pollution, blood mitochondrial DNA copy number, and telomere length in mothers in the first trimester of pregnancy: Effects on fetal growth

S. Iodice, M. Hoxha, L. Ferrari, I. F. Carbone, C. Anceschi, M. Miragoli, A. C. Pesatori, N. Persico, V. Bollati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Growing evidences have shown that particulate matter (PM) exposures during pregnancy are associated with impaired fetal development and adverse birth outcomes, possibly as a result of an exaggerated systemic oxidative stress and inflammation. Telomere length (TL) is strongly linked to biological age and is impacted by oxidative stress. We hypothesized that PM exposure during different time windows in the first trimester of pregnancy influences both mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNAcn), an established biomarker for oxidative stress, and TL. Maternal blood TL and mtDNAcn were analysed in 199 healthy pregnant women recruited at the 11th week of pregnancy by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. We also examined whether maternal mtDNAcn and TL were associated with fetal growth outcomes measured at the end of the first trimester of pregnancy (fetal heart rate, FHR; crown-rump length, CRL; and nuchal translucency, NT) and at delivery (birth weight, length, head circumference). The possible modifying effect of prepregnancy maternal body mass index was evaluated. PM10 exposure during the first pregnancy trimester was associated with an increased maternal mtDNAcn and a reduced TL. As regards ultrasound fetal outcomes, both FHR and CRL were positively associated with PM2.5, whereas the association with FHR was confirmed only when examining PM10 exposure. PM10 was also associated with a reduced birth weight. While no association was found between mtDNAcn and CRL, we found a negative relationship between mtDNAcn and fetal CRL only in overweight women, whereas normal-weight women exhibited a positive, albeit nonsignificant, association. As abnormalities of growth in utero have been associated with postnatal childhood and adulthood onset diseases and as PM is a widespread pollutant relevant to the large majority of the human population and obesity a rising risk factor, our results, if confirmed in a larger population, might represent an important contribution towards the development of more targeted public health strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5162905
JournalOxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Ageing
  • Cell Biology


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