In the process of energy generation, particulate matter (PM) emissions derived from coal combustion expose humans to serious occupational diseases, which are associated with overgeneration of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The purpose of the present study is to better understand the relations between PM exposure derived from a coal electric-power plant and the oxidative damage in subjects (n=20 each group) directly (working at the burning area) or indirectly (working at the office or living in the vicinity of the electric-power plant=group of residents) exposed to airborne contamination, before and after daily supplementation with vitamins C (500mg) and E (800mg) during six months, which were compared to non-exposed subjects (control group). Several biomarkers of oxidative stress were examined such as levels of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), protein carbonyls (PC), protein thiols (PT) and vitamin E in plasma, levels of reduced glutathione (GSH) in whole blood, and of activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), glutathione reductase (GR) and glutathione S-transferase (GST) in red cells. Before supplementation, TBARS and PC levels were significantly increased, levels of GSH and vitamin E were decreased, while the activities of SOD and CAT were increased in workers groups and GST were increased in all groups in compared to controls. After the antioxidant supplementation essentially all these biomarkers were normalized to control levels. The antioxidant intervention was able to confer a protective effect of vitamins C and E against the oxidative insult associated with airborne contamination derived from coal burning of an electric-power plant.
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