Particulate air pollution and circulating biomarkers among type 2 diabetic mellitus patients: the roles of particle size and time windows of exposure

Environ Res. 2015 Jul;140:112-8. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.03.026. Epub 2015 Apr 2.


Background: Short-term associations between size-fractionated particulate matter (PM) air pollution and circulating biomarkers are not well established, especially among diabetes patients.

Methods: We conducted a longitudinal panel study involving 6 repeated measurements of 12 circulating biomarkers among 35 diabetes patients from April to June, 2013 in Shanghai, China. Real-time number and mass concentrations of PM with multiple size fractions between 0.25 and 10 μm were measured. Linear mixed-effect models were used to explore the associations between size-fractionated PM concentrations and blood biomarkers at different time windows.

Results: Short-term exposure to PM was significantly associated with elevated levels of 5 biomarkers of inflammation, 3 biomarkers of coagulation and 1 vasoconstrictor. The effects varied considerably by particle size and time windows. Overall, PM with smaller size had stronger associations, and the most significant size fractions were 0.25-0.40 μm. Even 2 h exposure to PM can lead to a significant increase in biomarkers. The effects on biomarkers of inflammation and vasoconstriction were restricted to the first 12h after exposure, but the effects on coagulation persisted for 24-72 h. For example, an interquartile range increase in 2h average exposure to PM(0.25-0.40) was associated with 6-20% increase in biomarkers of inflammation, 19-38% in coagulation and 17% in vasoconstriction. PM had a stronger effect among male patients than female patients.

Conclusions: Our results provided important evidence on the roles of the size and time windows of exposure in the PM-mediated effects on circulating biomarkers of inflammation, coagulation and vasoconstriction in diabetes patients in China.

Keywords: Biomarker; Epidemiology; Particle size; Particulate matter; Time window; Type 2 diabetic mellitus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • China
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Humans
  • Particle Size*
  • Particulate Matter / chemistry
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity*


  • Biomarkers
  • Particulate Matter