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Archives of Public Health

Volume 73 Supplement 1

Methods in Epidemiology Symposium

Open Access

Placental nitrosative stress and in utero exposure to particulate matter

  • Nelly Saenen1,
  • Karen Vrijens1,
  • Bram Janssen1,
  • Narjes Madhloum1,
  • Martien Peusens1,
  • Wilfried Gyselaers2,
  • Charlotte Vanpoucke3,
  • Wouter Lefebvre4,
  • Harry Roels1 and
  • Tim Nawrot1
Archives of Public HealthThe official journal of the Belgian Public Health Association201573(Suppl 1):P17

Published: 17 September 2015

Background and aims

A wide variety of adverse health effects on both fetuses and neonates have been ascribed to particulate matter (PM) air pollution. Recent evidence suggests that PM exposure results in increased oxidative and nitrosative stress. In the ENVIRONAGE birth cohort, we investigated the association of placental 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT) with PM exposure during various time windows of pregnancy.


3-NT levels were measured in 341 placental tissue samples, selected from the ENVIRONAGE birth cohort, using a competitive ELISA. Daily PM10 and PM2.5 exposure levels were interpolated for each mother's residential address using a spatiotemporal interpolation method in combination with a dispersion model. Multiple linear regression models were used to assess the association between 3-NT and PM exposure for different pregnancy windows.


The placental 3-NT level, adjusted for gender, gestational age, maternal age, pre-gestational BMI, smoking status, and warm or cold period at delivery, raised with 31.0% (p = 0.0008) for an interquartile range increment in whole pregnancy PM2.5 exposure. The association was driven by PM2.5 exposure during the first trimester (25.7 %, p = 0.01) and second trimester (37.0%, p = 0.003) of pregnancy.


We observed a positive association between 3-NT levels in the placenta and PM2.5 exposure during whole pregnancy. Our findings, which are in line with experimental evidence on cigarette smoke and diesel exhaust exposure, indicate the influence of PM exposure during pregnancy on placental oxidative stress. The impact of placental 3-NT with regard to PM exposure on newborn's health needs further elucidation.

Authors’ Affiliations

Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium
Department of Obstetrics, East-Limburg Hospital, Genk, Belgium
Belgian Interregional Environment Agency, Brussles, Belgium
Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Mol, Belgium


© Saenen et al. 2015

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


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