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Particle and Fibre Toxicology. Vol. 12, Iss. 5, 6, 7, 8 March 2015

Controlled exposure to particulate matter from urban street air is associated with decreased vasodilation and heart rate variability in overweight and older adults


Background Particles in smaller size fractions, such as ultrafine particles (UFPs) (with diameter less than 100 nm), has become of significant cardiovascular health concerns. However, the biological plausibility underlying potential relationship between UFPs and cardiovascular outcomes is less studied. Methods Fifty-three subjects living in Shanghai with type-2 diabetes (T2D) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) were followed for autonomic dysfunctions with three repeated measurements in 2010. Minute-to-minute concentrations of ambient particles in small size-fractions (5-560 nm), black carbon (BC), sulfur dioxide (SO 2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and ozone (O3) were monitored using a central monitoring laboratory equipped with real-time air monitors close to residential area of the subjects. Generalized linear mixed models, with adjustment for individual risk factors, were applied to assess the effects of air pollution on autonomic dysfunctions in subjects. Results Our study showed that significant reduction in the standard deviation of all NN intervals (SDNN) ranging from 3.4% to 8.1% were associated with interquartile range (IQR) increase of number concentration of particles (PNC) in size fractions <100 nm, and reduction from 1.3% to 4.6% with particles of diameter 100-200 nm, in subjects with diabetes or glucose tolerance. Increased exposure to traffic-related pollutants BC, NO2 and CO, and combustion pollutant SO2, were also significantly associated with HRV reductions. However, no effect was observed for particles in size fraction of 200-560 nm and O3. Diabetic risk factor and gender appeared to have significant interactions on autonomic dysfunction associated with UFPs and traffic pollution exposures in certain time-window. Conclusions Our results suggest that underlying diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance may confer reduced autonomic function of heart due to traffic pollution exposure.


Black carbon, diabetes, heart rate variability, Impaired glucose tolerance, Traffic pollution, Ultrafine particulates

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