Elevated plasma endothelin-1 and pulmonary arterial pressure in children exposed to air pollution

Environ Health Perspect. 2007 Aug;115(8):1248-53. doi: 10.1289/ehp.9641.


Background: Controlled exposures of animals and humans to particulate matter (PM) or ozone air pollution cause an increase in plasma levels of endothelin-1, a potent vasoconstrictor that regulates pulmonary arterial pressure.

Objectives: The primary objective of this field study was to determine whether Mexico City children, who are chronically exposed to levels of PM and O(3) that exceed the United States air quality standards, have elevated plasma endothelin-1 levels and pulmonary arterial pressures.

Methods: We conducted a study of 81 children, 7.9 +/- 1.3 years of age, lifelong residents of either northeast (n = 19) or southwest (n = 40) Mexico City or Polotitlán (n = 22), a control city with PM and O(3) levels below the U.S. air quality standards. Clinical histories, physical examinations, and complete blood counts were done. Plasma endothelin-1 concentrations were determined by immunoassay, and pulmonary arterial pressures were measured by Doppler echocardiography.

Results: Mexico City children had higher plasma endothelin-1 concentrations compared with controls (p < 0.001). Mean pulmonary arterial pressure was elevated in children from both northeast (p < 0.001) and southwest (p < 0.05) Mexico City compared with controls. Endothelin-1 levels in Mexico City children were positively correlated with daily outdoor hours (p = 0.012), and 7-day cumulative levels of PM air pollution < 2.5 mum in aerodynamic diameter (PM(2.5)) before endothelin-1 measurement (p = 0.03).

Conclusions: Chronic exposure of children to PM(2.5) is associated with increased levels of circulating endothelin-1 and elevated mean pulmonary arterial pressure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollution / analysis
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Child
  • Cities
  • Echocardiography, Doppler
  • Endothelin-1 / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Mexico
  • Neutrophils / drug effects
  • Ozone / analysis
  • Ozone / toxicity
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity
  • Pulmonary Artery / drug effects*
  • Pulmonary Artery / physiopathology


  • Air Pollutants
  • Endothelin-1
  • Particulate Matter
  • Ozone