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Environ Toxicol. 2016 Dec;31(12):1996-2005. doi: 10.1002/tox.22200. Epub 2015 Sep 28.

Inflammatory response and endothelial dysfunction in the hearts of mice co-exposed to SO2 , NO2 , and PM2.5.

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College of Environment and Resource, Research Center of Environment and Health, Shanxi University, Taiyuan, Shanxi, 030006, People's Republic of China.


SO2 , NO2 , and PM2.5 are typical air pollutants produced during the combustion of coal. Increasing evidence indicates that air pollution has contributed to the development and progression of heart-related diseases over the past decades. However, little experimental data and few studies of SO2 , NO2 , and PM2.5 co-exposure in animals exist; therefore, the relevant mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are unclear. An important characteristic of air pollution is that co-exposure persists at a low concentration throughout a lifetime. In the present study, we treated adult mice with SO2 , NO2 , and PM2.5 at various concentrations (0.5 mg/m3 SO2 , 0.2 mg/m3 NO2 6 h/d, with intranasal instillation of 1 mg/kg PM2.5 every other day during these exposures; or 3.5 mg/m3 SO2 , 2 mg/m3 NO2 6 h/d, and 10 mg/kg PM2.5 for 28 d). Blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), histopathological damage, and inflammatory and endothelial cytokines in the heart were assessed. The results indicate that co-exposure caused endothelial dysfunction by elevating endothelin-1 (ET-1) expression and repressing the endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) level as well as stimulating the inflammatory response by increasing the levels of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). Additionally, these alterations were confirmed by histological staining. Furthermore, we observed decreased BP and increased HR after co-exposure. Our results indicate that co-exposure to SO2 , NO2 , and PM2.5 may be a major risk factor for cardiac disease and may induce injury to the hearts of mammals and contribute to heart disease.


air pollutant co-exposure; endothelial dysfunction; heart; inflammation

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