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COPD Severity Affected by Traffic-Related Air Pollution

jan2020image004Regular and ongoing exposure to traffic-related air pollution can lead to a breakdown of the body’s defenses of the airway and the first line of defense against foreign invaders and the major cell type involved in acute and some forms of chronic inflammation. These pollutants restrict the body’s airflow, according to study results published in the European Respiratory Journal.

Acute (ongoing) exposure to traffic-related air pollution, therefore, is a significant contributor to respiratory morbidity and mortality, especially among individuals living with COPD. Researchers say they don’t know how or why this is the case.

The pollution impacts what are known as neutrophils. They are “recruited” to the lung following, specifically following diesel exhaust exposure.

Nearly a decade ago, Denmark research reported that long-term exposure to air pollution may increase the risk of severe COPD. That research was published in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

In the current study, researchers conducted a controlled human exposure crossover study to assess the effects of acute diesel exhaust exposure on neutrophil function in never-smokers, ex-smokers, and patients with mild to moderate COPD with support from additional in vitro studies.

The participants were exposed to diesel exhaust and filtered air for two hours on separate occasions.

Compared with filtered air, diesel exhaust exposure reduced the proportion of circulating band cells. Patients with COPD had increased peripheral neutrophil activation following diesel exhaust. The researchers also found that in vitro, suspended diesel exhaust particles increased the amount of NETs measured in isolated neutrophils.

All that to say, vehicle emissions pose a threat to individuals who have COPD.

For more information about the study and the outcomes of the research, visit Pulmonary Advisor.