Vehicular Particulate Matter (PM) Characteristics Impact Vascular Outcomes Following Inhalation


Roadside proximity and exposure to mixed vehicular emissions (MVE) have been linked to adverse pulmonary and vascular outcomes. However, because of the complex nature of the contribution of particulate matter (PM) versus gases, it is difficult to decipher the precise causative factors regarding PM and the copollutant gaseous fraction. To this end, C57BL/6 and apolipoprotein E knockout mice (ApoE−/−) were exposed to either filtered air (FA), fine particulate (FP), FP+gases (FP+G), ultrafine particulate (UFP), or UFP+gases (UFP+G). Two different timeframes were employed: 1-day (acute) or 30-day (subchronic) exposures. Examined biological endpoints included aortic vasoreactivity, aortic lesion quantification, and aortic mRNA expression. Impairments in vasorelaxation were observed following acute exposure to FP+G in C57BL/6 animals and FP, UFP, and UFP+G in ApoE−/− animals. These effects were completely abrogated or markedly reduced following subchronic exposure. Aortic lesion quantification in ApoE−/− animals indicated a significant increase in atheroma size in the UFP-, FP-, and FP+G-exposed groups. Additionally, ApoE−/− mice demonstrated a significant fold increase in TNFα expression following FP+G exposure and ET-1 following UFP exposure. Interestingly, C57BL/6 aortic gene expression varied widely across exposure groups. TNFα decreased significantly following FP exposure and CCL-5 decreased in the UFP-, FP-, and FP+G-exposed groups. Conversely, ET-1, CCL-2, and CXCL-1 were all significantly upregulated in the FP+G group. These findings suggest that gas–particle interactions may play a role in vascular toxicity, but the contribution of surface area is not clear.

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We thank Dr. Jesse Denson for manuscript editing and assistance in preparation.


This work has been supported by the ASERT-IRACDA program at UNM (K12GM088021) and NIEHS (K99ES029104; R01 ES014639).

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Correspondence to Katherine E. Zychowski.

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Zychowski, K.E., Tyler, C.R.S., Sanchez, B. et al. Vehicular Particulate Matter (PM) Characteristics Impact Vascular Outcomes Following Inhalation. Cardiovasc Toxicol 20, 211–221 (2020).

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  • Cardiovascular
  • Particulate matter
  • Pulmonary
  • Diesel exhaust
  • Vascular toxicity
  • Vehicle emissions