Background Blood pressure (BP) is a complex, multifactorial clinical outcome driven by genetic susceptibility, behavioral choices, and environmental factors. Many molecular mechanisms have been proposed for the pathophysiology of high BP even as its prevalence continues to grow worldwide, increasing morbidity and marking it as a major public health concern. To address this, we evaluated miRNA profiling in blood leukocytes as potential biomarkers of BP and BP-related risk factors. Methods The Beijing Truck Driver Air Pollution Study included 60 truck drivers and 60 office workers examined in 2008. On two days separated by 1-2 weeks, we examined three BP measures: systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial pressure measured at both pre-and post-work exams for blood NanoString nCounter miRNA profiles. We used covariate-Adjusted linear mixedeffect models to examine associations between BP and increased miRNA expression in both pooled and risk factor-stratified analyses. Results Overall 43 miRNAs were associated with pre-work BP (FDR<0.05). In stratified analyses different but overlapping groups of miRNAs were associated with pre-work BP in truck drivershigh-BMI participants, and usual alcohol drinkers (FDR<0.05). Only four miRNAs were associated with post-work BP (FDR<0.05), in ever smokers. Conclusion Our results suggest that many miRNAs were significantly associated with BP in subgroups exposed to known hypertension risk factors. These findings shed light on the underlying molecular mechanisms of BP, and may assist with the development of a miRNA panel for early detection of hypertension.
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