Rationale: The biological mechanisms linking air pollution to cardiovascular events still remain largely unclear.
Objectives: To investigate whether biological mechanisms linking air pollution to cardiovascular events occurred concurrently in human subjects exposed to urban air pollutants.
Methods: We recruited a panel of 76 young, healthy students from a university in Taipei. Between April and June of 2004 or 2005, three measurements were made in each participant of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), plasminogen activator fibrinogen inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) in plasma, and heart rate variability (HRV). Gaseous air pollutants were measured at one air-monitoring station inside their campus, and particulate air pollutants were measured at one particulate matter supersite monitoring station 1 km from their campus. We used linear mixed-effects models to associate biological endpoints with individual air pollutants averaged over 1- to 3-day periods before measurements were performed.
Measurements and main results: We found that increases in hs-CRP, 8-OHdG, fibrinogen, and PAI-1, and decreases in HRV indices were associated with increases in levels of particles with aerodynamic diameters less than 10 microm and 2.5 microm, sulfate, nitrate, and ozone (O(3)) in single-pollutant models. The increase in 8-OHdG, fibrinogen, and PAI-1, and the reduction in HRV remained significantly associated with 3-day averaged sulfate and O(3) levels in two-pollutant models. There were moderate correlations (r = -0.3) between blood markers of hs-CRP, fibrinogen, PAI-1, and HRV indices.
Conclusions: Urban air pollution is associated with inflammation, oxidative stress, blood coagulation and autonomic dysfunction simultaneously in healthy young humans, with sulfate and O(3) as two major traffic-related pollutants contributing to such effects.