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Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Jul;114(7):992-8.

Diabetes, obesity, and hypertension may enhance associations between air pollution and markers of systemic inflammation.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Airborne particulate matter (PM) may lead to increased cardiac risk through an inflammatory pathway. Therefore, we investigated associations between ambient PM and markers of systemic inflammation among repeated measures from 44 senior citizens (>/= 60 years of age) and examined susceptibility by conditions linked to chronic inflammation. Mixed models were used to identify associations between concentrations of fine PM [aerodynamic diameter </= 2.5 microm (PM2.5)] averaged over 1-7 days and measures of C-reactive protein (CRP) , interleukin-6 (IL-6) , and white blood cells (WBCs) . Effect modification was investigated for diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and elevated mean inflammatory markers. We found positive associations between longer moving averages of PM2.5 and WBCs across all participants, with a 5.5% [95% confidence interval (CI) , 0.10 to 11%] increase per interquartile increase (5.4 microg/m3) of PM2.5 averaged over the previous week. PM2.5 and CRP also exhibited positive associations among all individuals for averages longer than 1 day, with the largest associations for persons with diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. For example, an interquartile increase in the 5-day mean PM)2.5 (6.1 microg/m3) was associated with a 14% increase in CRP (95% CI, -5.4 to 37%) for all individuals and an 81% (95% CI, 21 to 172%) increase for persons with diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. Persons with diabetes, obesity, and hypertension also exhibited positive associations between PM2.5 and IL-6. Individuals with elevated mean inflammatory markers exhibited enhanced associations with CRP, IL-6, and WBCs. We found modest positive associations between PM2.5 and indicators of systemic inflammation, with larger associations suggested for individuals with diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and elevated mean inflammatory markers.

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