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Future Cardiol. 2012 Jul;8(4):577-602. doi: 10.2217/fca.12.43.

From particles to patients: oxidative stress and the cardiovascular effects of air pollution.

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BHF/University Centre for Cardiovascular Science, University of Edinburgh, Queens Medical Research Institute, 47 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.


Air pollution, especially airborne particulate matter (PM), is associated with an increase in both morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease, although the underlying mechanisms remain incompletely established. The one consistent observation that links the pulmonary and cardiovascular effects of inhaled PM is oxidative stress. This article examines the evidence for the role of oxidative stress in the cardiovascular effects of air pollution, beginning with observations from epidemiological and controlled exposure studies and then exploring potential mechanistic pathways involving free radical generation from PM itself, to effects of PM on cell cultures, isolated organs, healthy animals and animal models of disease. Particular emphasis is placed on the vascular and atherosclerotic effects of urban air pollution and diesel exhaust emissions as rich sources of environmental ultrafine particles.

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