Background In several studies, exposure to fine particulate matter (PM) has been associated with inflammation, with inconsistent results. We used repeated measurements to examine the association of long-term fine and ultrafine particle exposure with several blood markers of inflammation and coagulation.
Methods We used baseline (2000–2003) and follow-up (2006–2008) data from the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study, a German population-based prospective cohort of 4814 participants. A chemistry transport model was applied to model daily surface concentrations of PM air pollutants (PM10, PM2.5) and particle number on a grid of 1 km2. Applying mixed regression models, we analysed associations of long-term (mean of 365 days prior to blood draw) particle exposure at each participant's residence with the level of high-sensitivity C reactive protein (hs-CRP), fibrinogen, platelet and white cell count (WCC), adjusting for short-term PM exposure (moving averages of 1–7 days), personal characteristics, season, ambient temperature (1–5 days), ozone and time trend.
Results We analysed 6488 observations: 3275 participants with baseline data and 3213 with follow-up data. An increase of 2.4 µg/m3 in long-term PM2.5 was associated with an adjusted increase of 5.4% (95% CI 0.6% to 10.5%) in hs-CRP and of 2.3% (95% CI 1.4% to 3.3%) in the platelet count. Fibrinogen and WCC were not associated with long-term particle exposure.
Conclusions In this population-based cohort, we found associations of long-term exposure to PM with markers of inflammation (hs-CRP) and coagulation (platelets). This finding supports the hypothesis that inflammatory processes might contribute to chronic effects of air pollution on cardiovascular disease.
- particulate matter
- High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP)
- platelet count
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