Background: Exposure to single air pollutant and physical activity (PA) were associated with an altered mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNA-CN). However, studies on the interactive effects of single or a mixture of air pollutants and PA on mtDNA-CN were limited. Methods: A total of 2707 Chinese adults were obtained from the Henan Rural Cohort Study. Spatiotemporal models were used to estimate particulate matter (PMs) (PM with an aerodynamic diameter ≤ 1.0 μm (PM1), ≤2.5 μm (PM2.5) or ≤ 10 μm (PM10)) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations. Relative mtDNA-CN was measured by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Linear regression and quantile g-computation models were applied to examine associations of single or mixture of air pollutants with relative mtDNA-CN. The interactive effects of single or mixture of air pollutants and PA on relative mtDNA-CN were visualized by using Interaction plots. Results: Each 1 μg/m3 increment in PM1, PM2.5, PM10 or NO2 was associated with a 5.11% (95% confidence interval: 3.71%, 6.53%), 6.77% (4.81%, 8.76%), 3.05% (2.22%, 3.87%) or 4.99% (3.45%, 6.55%) increase in relative mtDNA-CN. Each one-quartile increment in mixture of the four air pollutants was related to a 0.053 (0.032, 0.075) increase in relative mtDNA-CN. Negative interaction effects of single or mixture of air pollutants and PA on relative mtDNA-CN were observed. Conclusions: The positive associations of single or mixture of air pollutants with relative mtDNA-CN were counteracted by PA at certain levels, implying that PA may be a costless and effective approach to decrease negative effects of air pollution on mtDNA-CN.
- Air pollutants
- Mitochondrial DNA copy number
- Physical activity
- Quantile g-computation
- Rural population