93. Ambient air pollution and inflammatory effects in a Canadian pregnancy cohort (lay summary)

Gogna P, King WD, Villeneuve P, Kumarathasan P, Johnson M, Lanphear BP, Shutt R, Arbuckle TE, Borghese, MM. Environmental Epidemiology Vol. 5, No. 5, October 2021 doi: 10.1097/EE9.0000000000000168 p. e 168

Exposure to outdoor air pollution may increase a woman’s risk of developing pregnancy complications. Researchers do not know exactly how this happens, but air pollution can lead to higher levels of inflammation, which might be one explanation.

Researchers from Health Canada used MIREC data to investigate if higher exposure to air pollution was associated with biomarkers of inflammation. These markers were measured in 3rd trimester blood samples and included C-reactive protein, Interleukin-6,  Interleukin-8, and Tumor-Necrosis Factor-alpha. Researchers assessed air pollution using measures of fine particulate matter, called PM2.5, and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The measures were collected at monitoring stations located across Canada and by using information from satellites. Exposure to PM2.5 and NO2 was estimated for the 14- and 30-day periods before the blood sample was collected.

The researchers found that both 14-day and 30-day PM2.5 exposures were associated with higher C-reactive protein levels, and therefore higher inflammation. Women with higher levels of exposure had 24.6% higher C-reactive protein levels compared to women with lower levels of exposure. PM2.5 and NO2 were not associated with other inflammation biomarkers

This examination of air pollution in relation to inflammation biomarkers helps researchers to better understand the mechanisms through which air pollution may lead to pregnancy complications.