Seasonal variations in fine particle composition from Beijing prompt oxidative stress response in mouse lung and liver

Sci Total Environ. 2018 Jun 1;626:147-155. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.01.017. Epub 2018 Jan 16.


Exposure to air pollution can induce oxidative stress, inflammation and adverse health effects. To understand how seasonal and chemical variations drive health impacts, we investigated indications for oxidative stress and inflammation in mice exposed to water and organic extracts from urban fine particles/PM2.5 (particles with aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 μm) collected in Beijing, China. Higher levels of pollution components were detected in heating season (HS, winter and part of spring) PM2.5 than in the non-heating season (NHS, summer and part of spring and autumn) PM2.5. HS samples were high in metals for the water extraction and high in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) for the organic extraction compared to their controls. An increased inflammatory response was detected in the lung and liver following exposure to the organic extracts compared to the water extracts, and mostly in the HS PM2.5. While reduced antioxidant response was observed in the lung, it was activated in the liver, again, more in the HS extracts. Nrf2 transcription factor, a master regulator of stress response that controls the basal oxidative capacity and induces the expression of antioxidant response, and its related genes were induced. In the liver, elevated levels of lipid peroxidation adducts were measured, correlated with histologic analysis that revealed morphologic features of cell damage and proliferation, indicating oxidative and toxic damage. In addition, expression of genes related to detoxification of PAHs was observed. Altogether, the study suggests that the acute effects of PM2.5 can vary seasonally with stronger health effects in the HS than in the NHS in Beijing, China and that some secondary organs may be susceptible for the exposure damage. Specifically, the liver is a potential organ influenced by exposure to organic components such as PAHs from coal or biomass burning and heating.

Keywords: Air pollution; Antioxidant response; Beijing; Inflammation; Nrf2 transcription factor; PAHs.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data
  • Animals
  • Beijing
  • China
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Liver / physiology
  • Mice
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • State Medicine


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons