Changes in blood pressure associated with lead, manganese, and selenium in a Bangladeshi cohort

Environ Pollut. 2019 May;248:28-35. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2019.01.129. Epub 2019 Feb 7.


Background: Heavy metal contamination is widespread in Bangladesh. Previous studies have observed lead increases blood pressure over time. However, the role of other metal contaminants and essential micronutrients, which could also adversely affect blood pressure or act as protective factors, is understudied.

Objectives: We therefore evaluated the associations of lead, manganese, and selenium with blood and pulse pressure trajectories.

Methods: We prospectively followed placebo-assigned participants nested within a randomized trial for the prevention of arsenic-related skin cancer (n = 255). Blood lead, manganese, and selenium were measured at baseline; blood pressure was measured at baseline and at 3 biennial follow-up examinations. Mixed-effect linear regression models were used to estimate associations with average annual changes in systolic, diastolic, and pulse pressure.

Results: In models simultaneously adjusted for baseline blood lead, manganese, and selenium concentrations in addition to other potential confounders, lead was linearly associated with increases in systolic blood pressure, but not with diastolic blood pressure or pulse pressure. A non-linear association was observed for manganese, such that mid-range concentrations were associated with decreases in systolic, diastolic, and pulse pressure. Baseline selenium concentrations in the highest quartile were also associated with longitudinal decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, while null associations were observed with pulse pressure. In exploratory analyses, the combination of mid-range manganese and high selenium concentrations completely offset lead-associated increases in blood and pulse pressure.

Conclusions: The results indicate a direct, linear association of lead exposure with systolic blood pressure, and manganese and selenium exposures within certain ranges may have a blood pressure-lowering effect in this population.

Keywords: Bangladesh; Blood pressure; Essential metals; Pulse pressure; Toxic metals.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arsenic / analysis
  • Arsenic / toxicity
  • Bangladesh
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ions / analysis
  • Male
  • Manganese / adverse effects*
  • Manganese / blood*
  • Metals, Heavy / adverse effects
  • Metals, Heavy / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Selenium / adverse effects*
  • Selenium / blood*
  • Skin Neoplasms / chemically induced


  • Ions
  • Metals, Heavy
  • Manganese
  • Selenium
  • Arsenic