An air filter intervention study of endothelial function among healthy adults in a woodsmoke-impacted community

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2011 May 1;183(9):1222-30. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201010-1572OC. Epub 2011 Jan 21.


Rationale: Particulate air pollution is associated with cardiovascular morbidity. One hypothesized mechanism involves oxidative stress, systemic inflammation, and endothelial dysfunction.

Objectives: To assess an intervention's impact on particle exposures and endothelial function among healthy adults in a woodsmoke-impacted community. We also investigated the underlying role of oxidative stress and inflammation in relation to exposure reductions.

Methods: Portable air filters were used in a randomized crossover intervention study of 45 healthy adults exposed to consecutive 7-day periods of filtered and nonfiltered air.

Measurements and main results: Reactive hyperemia index was measured as an indicator of endothelial function via peripheral artery tonometry, and markers of inflammation (C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and band cells) and lipid peroxidation (malondialdehyde and 8-iso-prostaglandin F(2α)) were quantified. Air filters reduced indoor fine particle concentrations by 60%. Filtration was associated with a 9.4% (95% confidence interval, 0.9-18%) increase in reactive hyperemia index and a 32.6% (4.4-60.9%) decrease in C-reactive protein. Decreases in particulate matter and the woodsmoke tracer levoglucosan were associated with reduced band cell counts. There was limited evidence of more pronounced effects on endothelial function and level of systemic inflammation among males, overweight participants, younger participants, and residents of wood-burning homes. No associations were noted for oxidative stress markers.

Conclusions: Air filtration was associated with improved endothelial function and decreased concentrations of inflammatory biomarkers but not markers of oxidative stress. Our results support the hypothesis that systemic inflammation and impaired endothelial function, both predictors of cardiovascular morbidity, can be favorably influenced by reducing indoor particle concentrations.

Trial registration: NCT01256957.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / blood*
  • Air Pollutants / urine*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • British Columbia
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dinoprost / urine
  • Endothelial Cells*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Filtration / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hyperemia
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inhalation Exposure*
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / urine
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Reference Values
  • Smoke*
  • Young Adult


  • Air Pollutants
  • Biomarkers
  • Smoke
  • Malondialdehyde
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Dinoprost

Associated data