Inflammatory Cytokines and White Blood Cell Counts Response to Environmental Levels of Diesel Exhaust and Ozone Inhalation Exposures.

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Epidemiological observations of urban inhalation exposures to diesel exhaust (DE) and ozone (O3) have shown pre-clinical cardiopulmonary responses in humans. Identifying the key biological mechanisms that initiate these health bioindicators is difficult due to variability in environmental exposure in time and from person to person. Previously, environmentally controlled human exposure chambers have been used to study DE and O3 dose-response patterns separately, but investigation of co-exposures has not been performed under controlled conditions. Because a mixture is a more realistic exposure scenario for the general public, in this study we investigate the relationships of urban levels of urban-level DE exposure (300 μg/m3), O3 (0.3 ppm), DE + O3 co-exposure, and innate immune system responses. Fifteen healthy human volunteers were studied for changes in ten inflammatory cytokines (interleukins 1β, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 12p70 and 13, IFN-γ, and TNF-α) and counts of three white blood cell types (lymphocytes, monocytes, and neutrophils) following controlled exposures to DE, O3, and DE+O3. The results show subtle cytokines responses to the diesel-only and ozone-only exposures, and that a more complex (possibly synergistic) relationship exists in the combination of these two exposures with suppression of IL-5, IL-12p70, IFN-γ, and TNF-α that persists up to 22-hours for IFN-γ and TNF-α. The white blood cell differential counts showed significant monocyte and lymphocyte decreases and neutrophil increases following the DE + O3 exposure; lymphocytes and neutrophils changes also persist for at least 22-hours. Because human studies must be conducted under strict safety protocols at environmental levels, these effects are subtle and are generally only seen with detailed statistical analysis. This study indicates that the observed associations between environmental exposures and cardiopulmonary effects are possibly mediated by inflammatory response mechanisms.





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Stiegel, Matthew A, Joachim D Pleil, Jon R Sobus and Michael C Madden (2016). Inflammatory Cytokines and White Blood Cell Counts Response to Environmental Levels of Diesel Exhaust and Ozone Inhalation Exposures. PloS one, 11(4). p. e0152458. 10.1371/journal.pone.0152458 Retrieved from

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Matthew Stiegel

Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

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