Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) content and telomere length are putative aging biomarkers and are sensitive to environmental stressors, including pollutants. Our objective was to identify, from a set of environmental exposures, which exposure is associated with leukocyte mtDNA content and telomere length in adults. This study includes 175 adults from 50 to 65 years old from the cross-sectional Flemish Environment and Health study, of whom leukocyte telomere length and mtDNA content were determined using qPCR. The levels of exposure of seven metals, 11 organohalogens, and four perfluorinated compounds (PFHxS, PFNA, PFOA, PFOS) were measured. We performed sparse partial least-squares regression analyses followed by ordinary least-squares regression to assess the multipollutant associations. While accounting for possible confounders and coexposures, we identified that urinary cadmium (6.52%, 95% confidence interval, 1.06, 12.28), serum hexachlorobenzene (2.89%, 018, 5.68), and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (11.38%, 5.97, 17.08) exposure were positively associated ( p < 0.05) with mtDNA content, while urinary copper (-9.88%, -14.82, -4.66) and serum perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (-4.75%, -8.79, -0.54) exposure were inversely associated with mtDNA content. Urinary antimony (2.69%, 0.45, 4.99) and mercury (1.91%, 0.42, 3.43) exposure were positively associated with leukocyte telomere length, while urinary copper (-3.52%, -6.60, -0.34) and serum perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (-3.64%, -6.60, -0.60) showed an inverse association. Our findings support the hypothesis that environmental pollutants interact with molecular hallmarks of aging.
Environmental Studies; Mercury; Pollutants; Antimony; Cadmium; Mercury (metal); Hexachlorobenzene; Exposure; Perfluoro compounds; Mitochondrial DNA; Statistical analysis; White blood cells; Organohalogens; Confidence intervals; Environmental stress; Biomarkers; Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid; Deoxyribonucleic acid--DNA; Heavy metals; Regression analysis; Least squares