Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure has been considered a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVD), whereas possible mechanisms for this association have not been fully understood. This study focused on exploring the potential effect of oxidatively damaged DNA on the relationships between PAH exposure and the 10-year atherosclerotic CVD (ASCVD) risk. Urinary levels of monohydroxy PAH metabolites (OH-PAHs) and 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG, the typical biomarker for oxidatively damaged DNA) were measured among 3052 subjects in the baseline of the Wuhan-Zhuhai cohort. The relationships between urinary OH-PAHs, 8-oxodG and 10-year risk of ASCVD were analyzed by linear mixed models and logistic regression models, respectively. The mediation analysis was further applied to explore the role of 8-oxodG in the relationship between urinary OH-PAHs and 10-year ASCVD risk. After controlling for potential confounders, the log-transformed level of total urinary low molecular weight OH-PAHs (∑LMW OH-PAHs) was significantly associated with an elevated risk of 10-year ASCVD [odds ratio (OR) = 1.222, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.065-1.402]. More specifically, significantly positive dose-response relationships between total urinary hydroxynaphthalene (∑OHNa), hydroxyfluorene (∑OHFlu), hydroxyphenanthrene (∑OHPh) and 10-year ASCVD risk were observed (all P for trend <0.05). We also found positive relationships between urinary OH-PAH levels and 8-oxodG, as well as between urinary 8-oxodG levels and 10-year risk of ASCVD. Moreover, mediation analyses indicated that urinary 8-oxodG mediated 14.49%, 12.62% and 10.55% of the associations between urinary ∑LMW OH-PAHs, ∑OHNa, ∑OHFlu and 10-year ASCVD risk, respectively. These findings suggest that the oxidatively damaged DNA pathway may be a possible mechanism underlying PAH-associated ASCVD risk elevation.
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