WebMD Health News
Louise Chang, MD
Jan. 18, 2008 -- The tiniest air pollution particles may be particularly bad
A new study links ultrafine particulates from traffic to worse
atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) in mice.
Ultrafine particulates "may constitute a significant cardiovascular risk
factor," write Jesus Araujo, MD, PhD, of the University of California at
Los Angeles (UCLA), and colleagues.
Their findings appear online in Cardiovascular Research.
Araujo's team studied air pollution and atherosclerosis in a mobile lab near
a Los Angeles highway.
The researchers piped outside air into the lab, filtering it to varying
degrees for three groups of mice.
One group of mice breathed air laced with ultrafine particulates. A second
group breathed air containing ultrafine and larger particulates, with fewer
particulates overall in that air. The third group breathed air free of
Particulate levels for the mice that breathed the dirty air were two to six
times higher than inside a typical car on a Los Angeles highway, Araujo's team
The study lasted for 40 days. During that time, mice breathing air that only
contained ultrafine particulates developed the worst atherosclerosis.
The mice that also breathed bigger particulates also got atherosclerosis,
but it wasn't as severe. The mice that breathed the filtered air containing no
particulates had the healthiest arteries.
can also affect atherosclerosis. But all of the mice got the same food, so that
wasn't the problem.
Ultrafine particulates also hampered HDL ("good") cholesterol from fighting inflammation, the study
Araujo and colleagues call for further studies to see if the findings apply
SOURCES:Araujo, J. Circulation Research, Jan. 17, 2008; advance online
edition.News release, University of California at Los Angeles.
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