Across Europe, exposome researchers behind the nine projects of the European Human Exposome Network (EHEN) are examining a range of environmental effects on people’s health throughout the lifespan. Here are the highlights of recent EHEN scientific publications on the human exposome.
The link between urban land use and depressive symptoms in young adulthood
Mental health policy makers and urban planners should read the latest FinnTwin12 study from the Equal-Life project, exploring the relationship between urban land use and depressive symptoms among young adults in Finland. The researchers identified distinct clusters of participants inhabiting differential land use environments: city centre and suburban areas, and found notable variations between the two clusters.
The influence of childhood exposure to tobacco and mercury in children’s gut microbiota
Exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy can have a strong and lasting impact on children’s gut health later in life, new research from the ATHLETE project shows. The study, published in Frontiers, provides strong evidence that what happens in the early stages of life, like exposure to tobacco and mercury, can affect a person’s health in the long run through the bacteria in their digestive system.
Air pollutants affect cardiometabolic health even at low levels, but diet may mitigate the outcomes
Exposure to air pollutants, even at very low concentrations, was associated with adverse changes in cardiometabolic risk factors in a recent Finnish study. The main pollutant affecting these risk factors was particulate matter, which can be emitted from traffic and wood burning, amongst other sources. Interestingly, diet quality appeared to modify several associations of pollutants with cardiometabolic health.
Exposure to high humidity and temperature in pregnancy could influence blood pressure changes in childhood
Outdoor humidity and temperature levels during pregnancy could affect the future blood pressure of the unborn child, according to new research by the University of Bristol, published in JACC: Advances.
The study, part of the LongITools project, and also including ATHLETE project researchers, has shown that exposure to relative humidity and temperature levels during pregnancy was related to blood pressure changes in the children.
Acute exposure to realistic simulated urban atmospheres exacerbates pulmonary phenotype in cystic fibrosis-like mice
Air pollution is an important determinant of CF-like lung phenotypic variability. A fact that emphasized the added value of considering air pollution with a multi-pollutant approach, according to a study conducted jointly by the REMEDIA project, Université Paris-Est Créteil, Inserm, Institut Mondor de Recherche Biomédicale, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Laboratoire Inter-universitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques, Centre Hospitalier Intercommunal de Créteil and Centre des Maladies Respiratoires Rares, published in Journal of Hazardous Materials.
Long chain omega-3 fatty acid intake in pregnancy and risk of type 1 diabetes in the offspring: Two large Scandinavian pregnancy cohorts – MoBa and DNBC
The study, a preprint of which was was published in medRxiv in December 2023, used the data from two birth cohorts (DNBC and MoBa, which is one of the cohorts studied in HEDIMED). There was no association between the long chain omega-3 fatty acid intake during pregnancy and offspring risk of type 1 diabetes. Therefore, the results didn’t support the hypothesis that higher maternal omega-3 fatty acid use during pregnancy would reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes in children.
Residential relocation to assess impact of changes in the living environment on cardio-respiratory health: A narrative literature review with considerations for exposome research
Apolline Saucy and co-workers from ISGlobal (Spain) have investigated how residential relocation as a natural experiment can be used for studying the impact of changing urban exposures on cardio-metabolic health in high-income settings. Methodological approaches from 43 publications were evaluated resulting in guidance for future research in study design, data requirements and statistical methodologies. This work is part of EXPANSE.
Disentangling associations between multiple environmental exposures and all-cause mortality: an analysis of European administrative and traditional cohorts
Konstantina Dimakopoulou and coworkers evaluated the independent and joint effects of air pollution, land/built environment characteristics, and ambient temperature on all-cause mortality as part of the EXPANSE project. The findings of our study support the consistent independent effects of long-term exposure to air pollution and greenness, but also highlight the increased effect of air pollution when interplaying with other environmental exposures.
Insights into the role of Fusobacterium nucleatum in colorectal cancer
HEAP published a study on colorectal cancer using deep sequencing to compare the presence of bacteria and viruses between colorectal tumors and healthy colorectal tissue. Fusobacterium nucleatum, already known to be a potential CRC biomarker, revealed a stronger association with transcription (than merely the presence of the organism), providing further insights into the role of this microorganism in CRC.