Even a small breath of polluted air alters gene expression

Australian scientists at Monash University have found that even short-term exposure to contaminated air affects the expression of at least six genes associated with oxidative stress and inflammation. This, according to the researchers, increases the risk of cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and the likelihood of premature death. The results have been published in PLOS Medicine.

It is known that prolonged exposure to air with a high content of pollutants, such as particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 microns or sulfur dioxide, is dangerous to human life and health because it causes a lot of cardiovascular and respiratory systems’ issues. 

A new study by Australian scientists provides evidence for the first time that short-term exposure to contaminated air is also dangerous to humans by changing the expression of genes associated with heart disease, respiratory disease, and cancer.

Specialists have analyzed blood samples of 266 pairs of twins (192 identical and 74 unidentified), as well as 165 parents, residents of Brisbane. The blood taken periods were compared to the air quality in and around the city.

The results showed that air pollution altered the expression of six genes associated with oxidative stress and inflammation - signs of cardiovascular, respiratory, and cancer diseases. Even low levels of contamination affected gene activity, and in the long term, this led to increased risks of morbidity and mortality.

Thus, it has been shown that even short-lived exposure to air with minimal pollutants has long-term effects on human life and health. 

June 26, 2020, 11:45 a.m.

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