Health and Environmental Effects Research
ORD Scientist First To Demonstrate New Mechanism
Melanie Jardim of NHEERL's Environmental Public Health Division is the first to show that air pollutants can alter health effects by altering a mechanism that may cause permanent changes in gene expression. In her article to be published in Environmental Health Perspectives, she shows that this is an important, hitherto unknown way that cells in the human airway respond to diesel particles. This newly discovered mechanism, microRNA regulation, is part of the emerging field of epigenetics that shows how environmental agents can cause changes without modifying the DNA sequence. This study suggests that short-term exposure to air pollutants may have long-term or even transgenerational consequences and opens the way for novel forms of intervention. The paper can be accessed at http://www.ehponline.org/members/2009/0900756/0900756.pdf.