Urban Exposome and Cardiovascular Health in the CARDIA Longitudinal Study

Project: Research project

Project Details


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. Today, ~82.3% of the US population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is rising nationally and worldwide. As urban populations age, concern is escalating about the impact of urban environments on cardiovascular health (CVH). Urban areas may feature higher levels of ambient air particulate pollution (i.e., PM2.5), scarcity of natural environment, and poor layouts that may increase the risk of CVD. Of the research on urban environments and CVH, most has focused on either older adults or elderly, and has not studied the role of urban environments in the transition of healthy cardiovascular systems to subclinical CVD statuses as well as the role of DNA methylation in such a transition. In the present study, we will address these gaps by characterizing urban exposures longitudinally—using the emerging framework of the urban exposome—and then assessing their impact on early changes in novel biomarkers, cardiac and vascular structure and function including coronary artery calcification (CAC), carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT), and echocardiography (ECHO) all at a critical life period for the development of subclinical CVD. We are uniquely poised to achieve this goal because we can leverage resources from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. We will leverage 30 years of longitudinal data on 3,000 Black and White participants of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study (18-30 years old at baseline) and whose whole-blood methylation profiling data are available for three time points. Specially, we propose 1) to characterize urban exposome profiles that incorporate ambient air pollution, built, natural, and social environments; and identify city life-associated exposome patterns using state-of-the-art data science method; 2) to determine the contribution of lifelong urban exposome from young adulthood to midlife subclinical CVD development; and 3) to explore the mediating effect(s) of epigenetic biomarkers on the associations examined under Aim 2. This highly time- and cost-effective study will use the urban exposome approach including multiple modifiable risk factors and thus will be invaluable to inform future targeted neighborhood interventions and city planning in the US and globally.
Effective start/end date7/1/1912/31/20


  • University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (0014516C//19TPA34830085)
  • American Heart Association (0014516C//19TPA34830085)


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