Proper functioning of the placenta is crucial for development of the fetus, but inflammation may interfere with this physiologic process. Placental inflammation (PI) may result from exposure to heavy metals found in particulate matter (PM); heavy metals are hypothesized to cause PI by directly crossing the placental barrier or by systemic inflammation resulting from pulmonary inflammation. Additionally, maternal diet, a modifiable factor, may contribute to systemic inflammation, may be associated with PI, and may potentially modify the effects of exposure to two different size fractions of airborne PM (PM2.5 and PM10). The goal of this proposed work is to combine expertise from various fields to study associations between and among particulate matter (PM) air pollution, dietary exposures, and placental inflammation (PI). We will evaluate associations among 56 participants in the Michigan Archive for Research on Child Health (MARCH) cohort using novel measures of exposure and outcome. These methods include: 1. air pollution exposure assessment methods that incorporate spatial variation in exposure, 2. estimation of dietary contributions to inflammation by the use of the Dietary Inflammation Index (DII), and 3. the use of Global Transcriptome EdgeSeq System, which represents a novel application of mRNA sequencing method for use on placental samples.
Our proposed pilot project supports the priority of both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program to develop new knowledge on how environmental exposures affect child health and development. The ECHO program is comprised of more than 35 pediatric cohorts and funded by NIH. This proposed pilot project brings together experts from epidemiology, maternal and child health, environmental health sciences, nutritional sciences, obstetrics and biostatistics and attempts to elucidate the mechanisms involved in the association between air pollution and adverse birth outcomes as well as the potential role of maternal nutrition.