Exercise protects against PCB-induced inflammation and associated cardiovascular risk factors

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2016 Feb;23(3):2201-11. doi: 10.1007/s11356-014-4062-6. Epub 2015 Jan 15.


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are persistent environmental pollutants that contribute to the initiation of cardiovascular disease. Exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease; however, whether exercise can modulate PCB-induced vascular endothelial dysfunction and associated cardiovascular risk factors is unknown. We examined the effects of exercise on coplanar PCB-induced cardiovascular risk factors including oxidative stress, inflammation, impaired glucose tolerance, hypercholesteremia, and endothelium-dependent relaxation. Male ApoE(-/-) mice were divided into sedentary and exercise groups (voluntary wheel running) over a 12-week period. Half of each group was exposed to vehicle or PCB 77 at weeks 1, 2, 9, and 10. For ex vivo studies, male C57BL/6 mice exercised via voluntary wheel training for 5 weeks and then were administered with vehicle or PCB 77 24 h before vascular reactivity studies were performed. Exposure to coplanar PCB increased risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, including oxidative stress and systemic inflammation, glucose intolerance, and hypercholesteremia. The 12-week exercise intervention significantly reduced these proatherogenic parameters. Exercise also upregulated antioxidant enzymes including phase II detoxification enzymes. Sedentary animals exposed to PCB 77 exhibited endothelial dysfunction as demonstrated by significant impairment of endothelium-dependent relaxation, which was prevented by exercise. Lifestyle modifications such as aerobic exercise could be utilized as a therapeutic approach for the prevention of adverse cardiovascular health effects induced by environmental pollutants such as PCBs.

Keywords: Antioxidant response; Cardiovascular disease; Endothelial function; Exercise; Inflammation; Oxidative stress; Polychlorinated biphenyl.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / immunology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motor Activity
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / toxicity*
  • Risk Factors


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls