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Meta-Analysis
, 10 (5), e0127014
eCollection

Carotid Intima-Media Thickness, a Marker of Subclinical Atherosclerosis, and Particulate Air Pollution Exposure: The Meta-Analytical Evidence

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Meta-Analysis

Carotid Intima-Media Thickness, a Marker of Subclinical Atherosclerosis, and Particulate Air Pollution Exposure: The Meta-Analytical Evidence

Eline B Provost et al. PLoS One.

Abstract

Introduction: Studies on the association between atherosclerosis and long-term exposure to ambient air pollution suggest that carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), a marker of subclinical atherosclerosis, is positively associated with particulate matter (PM) exposure. However, there is heterogeneity between the different studies concerning the magnitude of this association. We performed a meta-analysis to determine the strength of the association between CIMT and particulate air pollution.

Methods: We queried PubMed citation database and Web of Knowledge up to March 2015 in order to identify studies on CIMT and particulate air pollution. Two investigators selected and computerized all relevant information, independently. Eight of the reviewed epidemiological publications provided sufficient details and met our inclusion criteria. Descriptive and quantitative information was extracted from each selected study. The meta-analysis included 18,349 participants from eight cohorts for the cross-sectional association between CIMT and PM and 7,268 participants from three cohorts for the longitudinal analysis on CIMT progression and PM exposure.

Results: The average exposure to PM2.5 in the different study populations ranged from 4.1 to 20.8 µg/m3 and CIMT averaged (SD) 0.73 (0.14) mm. We computed a pooled estimate from a random-effects model. In the combined cross-sectional studies, an increase of 5 µg/m3 PM2.5 was associated with a 1.66% (95% CI: 0.86 to 2.46; P<0.0001) thicker CIMT, which corresponds to an average increase of 12.1 µm. None of the studies moved the combined estimate outside the confidence interval of the overall estimate. A funnel plot suggested absence of publication bias. The combined longitudinal estimate showed for each 5 µg/m3 higher PM2.5 exposure, a 1.04 µm per year (95% CI: 0.01 to 2.07; P=0.048) greater CIMT progression.

Conclusion: Our meta-analysis supports the evidence of a positive association between CIMT, a marker of subclinical atherosclerosis, and long-term exposure to particulate air pollution.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Figures

Fig 1
Fig 1. Flow chart of the study selection for meta-analysis.
Fig 2
Fig 2. Percent change in CIMT (95% CI) associated with a 5 μg/m3 higher long-term exposure to PM2.5.
Squares represent individual studies. The magnitude of each square represents the inverse of the variance.
Fig 3
Fig 3. Funnel plot showing the difference in CIMT associated with a 5 μg/m3 higher PM2.5 exposure against the standard error of each individual cross-sectional study.
Fig 4
Fig 4. Change in CIMT progression in μm per year (95% CI) associated with a 5 μg/m3 higher long-term exposure to PM2.5.
Squares represent individual studies. The magnitude of each square represents the inverse of the variance.

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Grant support

This work was supported by the EU Program "Ideas" [ERC-2012-StG 310898; http://erc.europa.eu/; TSN] and Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) [G087311N10/G0A7814N; http://www.fwo.be/; TSN]; EBP has a VITO-FWO PhD fellowship [11K1715N; http://www.fwo.be/]. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
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