HealthDay News — According to a study published in Circulation Research, even young, healthy adults can suffer endothelial injury from air pollution.

Timothy O’Toole, PhD, of the Diabetes and Obesity Center at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, and colleagues focused on fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Study participants included 72 healthy, non-smoking adults in the Utah Valley (age 23 on average). The team tested participants’ blood for markers of cardiovascular disease as air quality changed during the winters of 2013, 2014, and 2015.

The researchers found that episodic PM2.5 exposures were associated with increased endothelial cell apoptosis, an anti-angiogenic plasma profile, and elevated levels of circulating monocytes and T, but not B, lymphocytes. As pollution levels increased, so did indications of cell injury and death.

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The findings suggest that living in a polluted environment could promote development of hypertension, cardiovascular disease and stroke more pervasively and at an earlier stage than previously thought, O’Toole told HealthDay

“Although we have known for some time that air pollution can trigger heart attacks 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 is of concern to all of us, and not just the sick or the elderly,” O’Toole said.


Pope CA, et al. “Exposure To Fine Particulate Air Pollution Is Associated With Endothelial Injury And Systemic Inflammation”. Circulation Research. 2016. 116(309279). doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.116.309279.

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