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The molecular mechanisms that promote pathologic alterations in human physiology mediated by short-term exposure to traffic pollutants remains not well understood. This work was to develop mechanistic networks to determine which specific pathways are activated by real-world exposures of traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) during rest and moderate physical activity (PA). A controlled crossover study to compare whole blood gene expression pre and post short-term exposure to high and low of TRAP was performed together with systems biology analysis. Twenty-eight healthy volunteers aged between 21 and 53 years were recruited. These subjects were exposed during 2 h to different pollution levels (high and low TRAP levels), while either cycling or resting. Global transcriptome profile of each condition was performed from human whole blood samples. Microarrays analysis was performed to obtain differential expressed genes (DEG) to be used as initial input for GeneMANIA software to obtain protein-protein (PPI) networks. Two networks were found reflecting high or low TRAP levels, which shared only 5.6 and 15.5% of its nodes, suggesting specific cell signaling pathways being activated in each environmental condition. However, gene ontology analysis of each PPI network suggests that each level of TRAP regulate common members of NF-κB signaling pathway. Our work provides the first approach describing mechanistic networks to understand TRAP effects on a system level.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Journal Article

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