Associations of blood levels of trace elements and heavy metals with metabolic syndrome in Chinese male adults with microRNA as mediators involved.


Department of Occupational Health and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Capital Medical University, Beijing, 100069, PR China; Beijing Key Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology, Capital Medical University, Beijing, 100069, PR China. Electronic address: [Email]


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.


Cross-sectional study,Heavy metal,Mediation model,Metabolic syndrome,MiRNA,Trace element,

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