Persistent endothelial dysfunction in humans after diesel exhaust inhalation

Håkan Törnqvist, Nicholas L Mills, Manuel Gonzalez, Mark R Miller, Simon D Robinson, Ian L Megson, William Macnee, Ken Donaldson, Stefan Söderberg, David E Newby, Thomas Sandström, Anders Blomberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


RATIONALE: Exposure to combustion-derived air pollution is associated with an early (1-2 h) and sustained (24 h) rise in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. We have previously demonstrated that inhalation of diesel exhaust causes an immediate (within 2 h) impairment of vascular and endothelial function in humans.

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the vascular and systemic effects of diesel exhaust in humans 24 hours after inhalation.

METHODS: Fifteen healthy men were exposed to diesel exhaust (particulate concentration, 300 microg/m(3)) or filtered air for 1 hour in a double-blind, randomized, crossover study. Twenty-four hours after exposure, bilateral forearm blood flow, and inflammatory and fibrinolytic markers were measured before and during unilateral intrabrachial bradykinin (100-1,000 pmol/min), acetylcholine (5-20 microg/min), sodium nitroprusside (2-8 microg/min), and verapamil (10-100 microg/min) infusions.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Resting forearm blood flow, blood pressure, and basal fibrinolytic markers were similar 24 hours after either exposure. Diesel exhaust increased plasma cytokine concentrations (tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6, p < 0.05 for both) but appeared to reduce acetylcholine (p = 0.01), and bradykinin (p = 0.08) induced forearm vasodilatation. In contrast, there were no differences in either endothelium-independent (sodium nitroprusside and verapamil) vasodilatation or bradykinin-induced acute plasma tissue plasminogen activator release.

CONCLUSIONS: Twenty-four hours after diesel exposure, there is a selective and persistent impairment of endothelium-dependent vasodilatation that occurs in the presence of mild systemic inflammation. These findings suggest that combustion-derived air pollution may have important systemic and adverse vascular effects for at least 24 hours after exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-400
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2007


  • Acetylcholine
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers
  • Bradykinin
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Endothelium, Vascular
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Forearm
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-6
  • Male
  • Nitroprusside
  • P-Selectin
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Vasodilation
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Vehicle Emissions
  • Verapamil


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