Millions of poor people in the developing world still thrive on ragpicking. In the present study, we have examined whether ragpicking is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. For this, we have enrolled 112 premenopausal female ragpickers (median age 30 years) and 98 age-matched housemaids as control from Kolkata, Eastern India. Venous blood was drawn for routine hematology; flow cytometry was used to measure generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by leukocytes, surface expression of CD62P (P-selectin) in platelets and CD11b in leukocytes. Collagen-induced platelet aggregation was evaluated by aggregometer, and erythrocytic superoxide dismutase (SOD) was measured by spectrophotometry. Soluble P-selectin (sP-sel) and CD40L (sCD40L), neutrophil-activating protein-2 (NAP-2), platelet and plasma serotonin, oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL), and anticardiolipin antibodies (aCL) in plasma were measured by ELISA. Compared with control, the ragpickers had significantly higher prevalence of hypertension and prehypertension, and hypertension was positively associated with ragpicking. The ragpickers also had higher levels of inflammation (elevated NAP-2), oxidative stress (elevated ROS generation with depleted SOD) with oxLDL, platelet activation and aggregability, soluble CD40 ligand, with altered serotonin level (rose in plasma but depleted in platelet). A greater percentage of ragpickers had elevated serum level of aCL of the IgG and IgM isotypes than the controls. The results suggest that the occupation of ragpicking increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases in premenopausal women of Eastern India via inflammation, oxidative stress, platelet hyperactivity, and hypertension.
Keywords: Cardiovascular health; Hypertension; India; Oxidative stress; Platelet function; Ragpickers.