Chemical constituents of ambient particulate air pollution and biomarkers of inflammation, coagulation and homocysteine in healthy adults: A prospective panel study
Background Ambient air pollution has been associated with activation of systemic inflammation and hypercoagulability and increased plasma homocysteine, but the chemical constituents behind the association are not well understood. We examined the relations of various chemical constituents of fine particles (PM2.5) and biomarkers of inflammation, coagulation and homocysteine in the context of traffic-related air pollution.
Methods A panel of 40 healthy college students underwent biweekly blood collection for 12 times before and after their relocation from a suburban campus to an urban campus with changing air pollution contents in Beijing. Blood samples were measured for circulatory biomarkers of high-sensitivity C reactive protein (hs-CRP), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), fibrinogen, plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1), tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA), von Willebrand factor (vWF), soluble platelet selectin (sP-selectin), and total homocysteine (tHcy). Various air pollutants were measured in a central air-monitoring station in each campus and 32 PM2.5 chemical constituents were determined in the laboratory. We used three different mixed-effects models (single-constituent model, constituent-PM2.5 joint model and constituent residual model) controlling for potential confounders to estimate the effects of PM2.5 chemical constituents on circulatory biomarkers.
Results We found consistent positive associations between the following biomarkers and PM2.5 chemical constituents across different models: TNF-α with secondary organic carbon, chloride, zinc, molybdenum and stannum; fibrinogen with magnesium, iron, titanium, cobalt and cadmium; PAI-1 with titanium, cobalt and manganese; t-PA with cadmium and selenium; vWF with aluminum. We also found consistent inverse associations of vWF with nitrate, chloride and sodium, and sP-selectin with manganese. Two positive associations of zinc with TNF-α and of cobalt with fibrinogen, and two inverse associations of nitrate with vWF, and of manganese with sP-selectin, were independent of the other constituents in two-constituent models using constituent residual data. We only found weak air pollution effects on hs-CRP and tHcy.
Conclusions Our results provide clues for the potential roles that PM2.5 chemical constituents may play in the biological mechanisms through which air pollution may influence the cardiovascular system.