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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2018 Mar;141(3):833-844. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.12.981.

Inflammatory health effects of indoor and outdoor particulate matter.

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Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Xinxiang Medical University, Xinxiang, China.
Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, China.
Air Pollution Exposure Laboratory, Department of Medicine and School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Electronic address:


Inflammation is a common and essential event in the pathogenesis of diverse diseases. Decades of research has converged on an understanding that all combustion-derived particulate matter (PM) is inflammatory to some extent in the lungs and also systemically, substantially explaining a significant portion of the massive cardiopulmonary disease burden associated with these exposures. In general, this means that efforts to do the following can all be beneficial: reduce particulates at the source, decrease the inflammatory potential of PM output, and, where PM inhalation is unavoidable, administer anti-inflammatory treatment. A range of research, including basic illumination of inflammatory pathways, assessment of disease burden in large cohorts, tailored treatment trials, and epidemiologic, animal, and in vitro studies, is highlighted in this review. However, meaningful translation of this research to decrease the burden of disease and deliver a clear and cohesive message to guide daily clinical practice remains rudimentary. Ongoing efforts to better understand substantial differences in the concentration and type of PM to which the global community is exposed and then distill how that influences inflammation promises to have real-world benefit. This review addresses this complex topic in 3 sections, including ambient PM (typically associated with ground-level transportation), wildfire-induced PM, and PM from indoor biomass burning. Recognizing the overlap between these domains, we also describe differences and suggest future directions to better inform clinical practice and public health.


Air pollution; biomass; inflammation; particulate matter; wildfire

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