Impact of Ecological Park Restoration on Health in Low Income Neighborhoods: A Natural Experiment

Individuals living in socioeconomically deprived inner cities have disproportionately high rates of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiometabolic conditions, all of which, in part, have stress and inflammation-related etiologies. Lowering stress and inflammation can offer an important avenue to address chronic disease. Evidence is mounting on the mechanistic role of the microbiome in the onset and persistence of inflammation. Even so, there remains a major paucity of microbiome data among minority populations. We know little about the relationships between the microbiome, health, and possible environmental stimuli which affect the microbiome, particularly among African Americans. This study will capitalize on data from a previous project in two low-income, predominantly African American neighborhoods in Detroit, Michigan. We propose to enhance our existing database of biomarkers of stress (salivary cortisol), inflammation (C-Reactive Protein) and cardiometabolic health indicators (BMI, waist hip ratio, blood pressure, and A1C) by evaluating the oral microbiome and metabolome from 68 participants, collected May-Aug 2018. We will characterize the unique microbial and metabolomics signatures in this understudied group and evaluate relationships with health measures. We will also examine stimuli related to the neighborhood which may influence the microbiome – plant diversity, time spent outdoors, interactions with neighbors and perceived crime. The central question we will answer is: What are the relationships between the human microbiome and stress, inflammation and cardiometabolic health and what are the correlations of the microbiome with neighborhood conditions in low-income, predominantly African American neighborhoods? We propose two aims. Aim 1: Analyze saliva samples from 68 primarily African American participants for oral microbiome and metabolome signatures associated with indictors of stress, inflammation and cardiometabolic health. Aim 2: Identify correlations between exposure to parks and green spaces and the participants’ oral microbiome and metabolome. Understanding correlations between the microbiome, stress, inflammation and cardiometabolic health, and ultimately chronic disease, is in its infancy. The proposed breakthrough project may identify unique microbial and metabolic signatures associated with neighborhood conditions and health outcomes and provide the foundation for future research to determine causal effects. Such research will be vital in the efforts needed to mitigate pervasive socioeconomic disparities in obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiometabolic health.