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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2019 Sep 1;200(5):565-574. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201809-1657OC.

Particle Depletion Does Not Remediate Acute Effects of Traffic-related Air Pollution and Allergen. A Randomized, Double-Blind Crossover Study.

Author information

Air Pollution Exposure Laboratory, Division of Respiratory Medicine, Department of Medicine, and.
Department of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Department of Human Genetics, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia; and.
Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics, British Columbia Children's Hospital Research Institute, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Rationale: Diesel exhaust (DE), an established model of traffic-related air pollution, contributes significantly to the global burden of asthma and may augment the effects of allergen inhalation. Newer diesel particulate-filtering technologies may increase NO2 emissions, raising questions regarding their effectiveness in reducing harm from associated engine output.Objectives: To assess the effects of DE and allergen coexposure on lung function, airway responsiveness, and circulating leukocytes, and determine whether DE particle depletion remediates these effects.Methods: In this randomized, double-blind crossover study, 14 allergen-sensitized participants (9 with airway hyperresponsiveness) underwent inhaled allergen challenge after 2-hour exposures to DE, particle-depleted DE (PDDE), or filtered air. The control condition was inhaled saline after filtered air. Blood sampling and spirometry were performed before and up to 48 hours after exposures. Airway responsiveness was evaluated at 24 hours.Measurements and Main Results: PDDE plus allergen coexposure impaired lung function more than DE plus allergen, particularly in those genetically at risk. DE plus allergen and PDDE plus allergen each increased airway responsiveness in normally responsive participants. DE plus allergen increased blood neutrophils and was associated with persistent eosinophilia at 48 hours. DE and PDDE each increased total peripheral leukocyte counts in a manner affected by participant genotypes. Changes in peripheral leukocytes correlated with lung function decline.Conclusions: Coexposure to DE and allergen impaired lung function, which was worse after particle depletion (which increased NO2). Thus, particulates are not necessarily the sole or main culprit responsible for all harmful effects of DE. Policies and technologies aimed at protecting public health should be scrutinized in that regard.Clinical trial registered with (NCT02017431).


asthma; diesel exhaust; filter; genetic susceptibility


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