Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a global health problem with an increasing prevalence. However, effects of trace elements and heavy metals on MetS and the mechanism underlying this effect are poorly understood. A preliminary cross-sectional study was conducted in 2015. Significantly higher blood concentrations of lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), and selenium (Se) were observed in the MetS group. With a priori adjustment for age, the concentration of Cu and Se in the blood was associated with a 2.56 - fold [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.11, 5.92] and 3.31 - fold (95% CI, 1.4, 7.82) increased risk of MetS, respectively. Moreover, increased blood Se concentrations were associated with body mass index (BMI) [odds ratio (OR): 2.56; 95% CI, 1.11, 5.93], high blood pressure [for both systolic and diastolic blood pressures (SBP and DBP); OR: 3.82; 95% CI, 1.47, 7.31 for SBP and OR: 2.56; 95% CI, 1.18, 5.59 for DBP], and hypertriglyceridemia (OR: 3.3; 95% CI, 1.51, 7.2). In addition, the expression of miR-21-5p, miR-122-5p, and miR-146a-5p was significantly higher in subjects with MetS than those without MetS. Increased expression of miR-21-5p was significantly associated with increased SBP (β = 5.28; 95% CI, 0.63, 9.94) and DBP (β = 4.17; 95% CI, 0.68, 7.66). Moreover, Cu was positively associated with miR-21-5p (β = 3.02; 95% CI, 0.07, 5.95), whereas Se was positively associated with miR-122-5p (β = 2.7; 95% CI, 0.64, 4.76). The bootstrapping mediation models indicated that miR-21-5p partially mediated the relationships between Cu level and SBP/DBP. This study suggested that Cu and Se were both associated with MetS, and miR-21-5p participated in the development of MetS associated with Cu.
Keywords: Cross-sectional study; Heavy metal; Mediation model; Metabolic syndrome; MiRNA; Trace element.
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