Exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and serum inflammatory markers of cardiovascular disease

John D. Clark, Berrin Serdar, David J. Lee, Kristopher Arheart, James D. Wilkinson, Lora E. Fleming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are environmental and occupational carcinogens produced by the incomplete combustion of organic materials, such as coal and petroleum product combustion, tobacco smoking, and food cooking, that may be significant contributors to the burden of cardiovascular disease in human populations. The purpose of this study was to investigate associations between ten monohydroxy urinary metabolites of four PAHs and three serum biomarkers of cardiovascular disease (fibrinogen, homocysteine, and white blood cell count). Using data on 3219 participants aged 20 years and older from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2004 dataset, the associations between PAH metabolites and serum inflammatory markers were analyzed using the Spearman correlations and multiple linear regression modeling. The PAH metabolites of naphthalene, fluorene, phenanthrene, and pyrene each showed both positive and negative correlations with homocysteine, fibrinogen, and white blood cell count (correlation coefficient range: -0.077-0.143) in nonsmoking participants. Using multiple linear regression models adjusted for age, gender, race/ethnicity, and body mass index, estimates of weighted geometric means of inflammatory marker levels were not significantly different between high and low levels (75th vs. 25th percentiles) for all PAH metabolites in nonsmoking subjects. The results of this study do not provide evidence for a relationship between PAH exposure (as measured by urinary levels of PAH metabolites) and serum biomarkers of cardiovascular disease after controlling for tobacco use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-137
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Fibrinogen
  • Homocysteine
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • White blood cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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