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Study explores mechanisms of effects of personal ozone exposure on blood pressure and vascular endothelial function

A research team in China conducted a longitudinal panel study among 43 non-smoking college students in Shanghai to explore the effects of personal ozone exposure on blood pressure (BP), vascular endothelial function, and the potential molecular mechanisms.

Endothelial cells line the inside of the heart and blood vessels and release substances that control vascular relaxation and contraction as well as enzymes that control blood clotting, immune function and platelet (a colorless substance in the blood) adhesion.

In the study, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers measured real-time personal ozone exposure levels, serum angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and endothelin-1 (ET-1), and locus-specific DNA methylation of ACE and EDN1 (coding ET-1).

They used an untargeted metabolomic approach to explore potentially important metabolites and applied linear mixed-effect models to examine the effects of ozone on the above biomarkers.


They found an increase in 2 h-average ozone exposure was significantly associated with elevated levels of BP, ACE, and ET-1. ACE and EDN1 methylation decreased with ozone exposure, but the magnitude differed by genomic loci.

Metabolomics analysis showed significant changes in serum lipid metabolites following ozone exposure that are involved in maintaining vascular endothelial function.

… our findings suggested that an acute exposure to ambient ozone can elevate serum levels of ACE and ET-1, decrease their DNA methylation, and alter the lipid metabolism, which may be partly responsible for the effects of ozone on BP and vascular endothelial function. Our study highlighted a potential mechanistic pathway for the increased BP and vascular endothelial dysfunction induced by short-term ozone exposure.

—Xia et al.


  • Yongjie Xia, Yue Niu, Jing Cai, Zhijing Lin, Cong Liu, Huichu Li, Chen Chen, Weimin Song, Zhuohui Zhao, Renjie Chen, and Haidong Kan (2018) “Effects of Personal Short-Term Exposure to Ambient Ozone on Blood Pressure and Vascular Endothelial Function: A Mechanistic Study Based on DNA Methylation and Metabolomics” Environmental Science & Technology doi: 10.1021/acs.est.8b03044


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