Exposure to fine particulate matter air pollution is associated with increased apoptosis of endothelial cells and elevated markers of inflammation, according to findings published in Circulation Research.
The mechanisms behind the relationship between fine particulate matter air pollution and CV injury were unclear, according to the researchers, so they aimed to determine whether there is any direct evidence linking fine particulate matter air pollution to endothelial injury and systemic inflammation.
“These findings suggest that living in a polluted environment could promote the development of high [BP], heart disease and stroke more pervasively and at an earlier stage than previously thought,” Aruni Bhatnagar, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of Louisville, said in a press release. “Although we have known for some time that air pollution can trigger [MIs] or strokes in susceptible, high-risk individuals, the finding that it could also affect even seemingly healthy individuals suggests that increased levels of air pollution are of concern to all of us, not just the sick or the elderly.”
Bhatnagar and colleagues analyzed 72 young, healthy adults, 24 each in three study periods, who did not smoke and were not exposed to secondhand smoke at home, work or school. Blood was collected from each participant at various times, including times of known elevated fine particulate matter air pollution levels.
According to the researchers, fine particulate matter concentrations were associated with elevated endothelial microparticles, including subtypes expressing venous, arterial, lung, non-lung, lung arterial and lung venous markers (P < .001 for all).
They found no association between fine particulate matter concentrations and microparticles from endothelial progenitor cells, platelets and activated endothelial cells.
Bhatnagar and colleagues determined fine particulate matter concentrations were associated with elevated immune cell levels such as monocytes, natural killer cells, helper T cells and killer T cells.
Fine particulate matter concentrations also were associated with suppressed circulating levels of pro-angiogenic growth factors and increased anti-angiogenic and proinflammatory cytokines, as well as markers of endothelial adhesion, the researchers wrote.
In addition, exposure to elevated fine particulate matter concentrations was associated with an inflammatory response as confirmed by increased levels of circulating CD14+, CD16+, CD4+ and CD8+ cells, according to the researchers.
Sensitivity analyses of participants from the final two study periods indicated that sex and use of fish oil supplements did not modify the effect of fine particulate matter concentrations.
“These results substantially expand our understanding of how air pollution contributes to [CVD] by showing that exposure is associated with a cascade of adverse effects,” C. Arden Pope, PhD, professor of economics at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, said in the release. – by Erik Swain
The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.