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Environ Health Perspect. 2007 Jul;115(7):1072-80.

Air pollution and inflammation (interleukin-6, C-reactive protein, fibrinogen) in myocardial infarction survivors.

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GSF National Research Centre for Environment and Health, Institute of Epidemiology, Neuherberg, Germany.



Numerous studies have found that ambient air pollution has been associated with cardiovascular disease exacerbation.


Given previous findings, we hypothesized that particulate air pollution might induce systemic inflammation in myocardial infarction (MI) survivors, contributing to an increased vulnerability to elevated concentrations of ambient particles.


A prospective longitudinal study of 1,003 MI survivors was performed in six European cities between May 2003 and July 2004. We compared repeated measurements of interleukin 6 (IL-6), fibrinogen, and C-reactive protein (CRP) with concurrent levels of air pollution. We collected hourly data on particle number concentrations (PNC), mass concentrations of particulate matter (PM) < 10 microm (PM(10)) and < 2.5 microm (PM(2.5)), gaseous pollutants, and meteorologic data at central monitoring sites in each city. City-specific confounder models were built for each blood marker separately, adjusting for meteorology and time-varying and time-invariant covariates. Data were analyzed with mixed-effects models.


Pooled results show an increase in IL-6 when concentrations of PNC were elevated 12-17 hr before blood withdrawal [percent change of geometric mean, 2.7; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.0-4.6]. Five day cumulative exposure to PM(10) was associated with increased fibrinogen concentrations (percent change of arithmetic mean, 0.6; 95% CI, 0.1-1.1). Results remained stable for smokers, diabetics, and patients with heart failure. No consistent associations were found for CRP.


Results indicate an immediate response to PNC on the IL-6 level, possibly leading to the production of acute-phase proteins, as seen in increased fibrinogen levels. This might provide a link between air pollution and adverse cardiac events.

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