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Environ Health Perspect. 2015 Jan;123(1):34-41. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1307036. Epub 2014 Aug 29.

Effect of exposure to atmospheric ultrafine particles on production of free fatty acids and lipid metabolites in the mouse small intestine.

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Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA.



Exposure to ambient ultrafine particulate matter (UFP) is a well-recognized risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. However, little is known about the effects of air pollution on gastrointestinal disorders.


We sought to assess whether exposure to ambient UFP (diameter < 180 nm) increased free fatty acids and lipid metabolites in the mouse small intestine.


Ldlr-null mice were exposed to filtered air (FA) or UFP collected at an urban Los Angeles, California, site that was heavily affected by vehicular emissions; the exposure was carried out for 10 weeks in the presence or absence of D-4F, an apolipoprotein A-I mimetic peptide with antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties on a high-fat or normal chow diet.


Compared with FA, exposure to UFP significantly increased intestinal hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acids (HETEs), including 15-HETE, 12-HETE, 5-HETE, as well as hydroxyoctadecadienoic acids (HODEs), including 13-HODE and 9-HODE. Arachidonic acid (AA) and prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) as well as some of the lysophosphatidic acids (LPA) in the small intestine were also increased in response to UFP exposure. Administration of D-4F significantly reduced UFP-mediated increase in HETEs, HODEs, AA, PGD2, and LPA. Although exposure to UFP further led to shortened villus length accompanied by prominent macrophage and neutrophil infiltration into the intestinal villi, administration of D-4F mitigated macrophage infiltration.


Exposure to UFP promotes lipid metabolism, villus shortening, and inflammatory responses in mouse small intestine, whereas administration of D-4F attenuated these effects. Our findings provide a basis to further assess the mechanisms underlying UFP-mediated lipid metabolism in the digestive system with clinical relevance to gut homeostasis and diseases.

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