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1.  Cardiac effects of seasonal ambient particulate matter and ozone co-exposure in rats 
Background
The potential for seasonal differences in the physicochemical characteristics of ambient particulate matter (PM) to modify interactive effects with gaseous pollutants has not been thoroughly examined. The purpose of this study was to compare cardiac responses in conscious hypertensive rats co-exposed to concentrated ambient particulates (CAPs) and ozone (O3) in Durham, NC during the summer and winter, and to analyze responses based on particle mass and chemistry.
Methods
Rats were exposed once for 4 hrs by whole-body inhalation to fine CAPs alone (target concentration: 150 μg/m3), O3 (0.2 ppm) alone, CAPs plus O3, or filtered air during summer 2011 and winter 2012. Telemetered electrocardiographic (ECG) data from implanted biosensors were analyzed for heart rate (HR), ECG parameters, heart rate variability (HRV), and spontaneous arrhythmia. The sensitivity to triggering of arrhythmia was measured in a separate cohort one day after exposure using intravenously administered aconitine. PM elemental composition and organic and elemental carbon fractions were analyzed by high-resolution inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry and thermo-optical pyrolytic vaporization, respectively. Particulate sources were inferred from elemental analysis using a chemical mass balance model.
Results
Seasonal differences in CAPs composition were most evident in particle mass concentrations (summer, 171 μg/m3; winter, 85 μg/m3), size (summer, 324 nm; winter, 125 nm), organic:elemental carbon ratios (summer, 16.6; winter, 9.7), and sulfate levels (summer, 49.1 μg/m3; winter, 16.8 μg/m3). Enrichment of metals in winter PM resulted in equivalent summer and winter metal exposure concentrations. Source apportionment analysis showed enrichment for anthropogenic and marine salt sources during winter exposures compared to summer exposures, although only 4% of the total PM mass was attributed to marine salt sources. Single pollutant cardiovascular effects with CAPs and O3 were present during both summer and winter exposures, with evidence for unique effects of co-exposures and associated changes in autonomic tone.
Conclusions
These findings provide evidence for a pronounced effect of season on PM mass, size, composition, and contributing sources, and exposure-induced cardiovascular responses. Although there was inconsistency in biological responses, some cardiovascular responses were evident only in the co-exposure group during both seasons despite variability in PM physicochemical composition. These findings suggest that a single ambient PM metric alone is not sufficient to predict potential for interactive health effects with other air pollutants.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12989-015-0087-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12989-015-0087-3
PMCID: PMC4419498  PMID: 25944145
Ambient particulate matter; Ozone; Season; Cardiac; Health effects; Co-exposure; Electrocardiogram; Rats; Source apportionment; Elements
2.  An Autonomic Link Between Inhaled Diesel Exhaust and Impaired Cardiac Performance: Insight From Treadmill and Dobutamine Challenges in Heart Failure–Prone Rats 
Toxicological Sciences  2013;135(2):425-436.
Cardiac disease exacerbation is associated with short-term exposure to vehicular emissions. Diesel exhaust (DE) might impair cardiac performance in part through perturbing efferent sympathetic and parasympathetic autonomic nervous system (ANS) input to the heart. We hypothesized that acute changes in ANS balance mediate decreased cardiac performance upon DE inhalation. Young adult heart failure–prone rats were implanted with radiotelemeters to measure heart rate (HR), HR variability (HRV), blood pressure (BP), core body temperature, and pre-ejection period (PEP, a contractility index). Animals pretreated with sympathetic antagonist (atenolol), parasympathetic antagonist (atropine), or saline were exposed to DE (500 µg/m3 fine particulate matter, 4h) or filtered air and then treadmill exercise challenged. At 1 day postexposure, separate rats were catheterized for left ventricular pressure (LVP), contractility, and lusitropy and assessed for autonomic influence using the sympathoagonist dobutamine and surgical vagotomy. During DE exposure, atenolol inhibited increases in HR, BP, and contractility, but not body temperature, suggesting a role for sympathetic dominance. During treadmill recovery at 4h post-DE exposure, HR and HRV indicated parasympathetic dominance in saline- and atenolol-pretreated groups that atropine inhibited. Conversely, at treadmill recovery 21h post-DE exposure, HRV and PEP indicated sympathetic dominance and subsequently diminished contractility that only atenolol inhibited. LVP at 1 day postexposure indicated that DE impaired contractility and lusitropy while abolishing parasympathetic-regulated cardiac responses to dobutamine. This is the first evidence that air pollutant inhalation both causes time-dependent oscillations between sympathetic and parasympathetic dominance and decreases cardiac performance via aberrant sympathetic dominance.
doi:10.1093/toxsci/kft155
PMCID: PMC3937599  PMID: 23872579
air pollution; autonomic; cardiac function; cardiovascular; diesel exhaust; electrocardiography; heart failure; heart rate variability; rat; stress test.
3.  Hypoxia Stress Test Reveals Exaggerated Cardiovascular Effects in Hypertensive Rats After Exposure to the Air Pollutant Acrolein 
Toxicological Sciences  2013;132(2):467-477.
Exposure to air pollution increases the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, especially in susceptible populations. Despite increased risk, adverse responses are often delayed and require additional stress tests to reveal latent effects of exposure. The goal of this study was to use an episode of “transient hypoxia” as an extrinsic stressor to uncover latent susceptibility to environmental pollutants in a rodent model of hypertension. We hypothesized that exposure to acrolein, an unsaturated aldehyde and mucosal irritant found in cigarette smoke, diesel exhaust, and power plant emissions, would increase cardiopulmonary sensitivity to hypoxia, particularly in hypertensive rats. Spontaneously hypertensive and Wistar Kyoto (normotensive) rats, implanted with radiotelemeters, were exposed once for 3h to 3 ppm acrolein gas or filtered air in whole-body plethysmograph chambers and challenged with a 10% oxygen atmosphere (10min) 24h later. Acrolein exposure increased heart rate, blood pressure, breathing frequency, and minute volume in hypertensive rats and also increased the heart rate variability parameter LF, suggesting a potential role for increased sympathetic tone. Normotensive rats only had increased blood pressure during acrolein exposure. The hypoxia stress test after acrolein exposure revealed increased diastolic blood pressure only in hypertensive rats and increased minute volume and expiratory time only in normotensive rats. These results suggest that hypertension confers exaggerated sensitivity to air pollution and that the hypoxia stress test is a novel tool to reveal the potential latent effects of air pollution exposure.
doi:10.1093/toxsci/kft008
PMCID: PMC3937591  PMID: 23335627
spontaneously hypertensive rat; hypoxia; acrolein; blood pressure.
4.  Dobutamine “Stress” Test and Latent Cardiac Susceptibility to Inhaled Diesel Exhaust in Normal and Hypertensive Rats 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2012;120(8):1088-1093.
Background: Exercise “stress” testing is a screening tool used to determine the amount of stress for which the heart can compensate before developing abnormal rhythm or ischemia, particularly in susceptible persons. Although this approach has been used to assess risk in humans exposed to air pollution, it has never been applied to rodent studies.
Objective: We hypothesized that a single exposure to diesel exhaust (DE) would increase the risk of adverse cardiac events such as arrhythmia and myocardial ischemia in rats undergoing a dobutamine challenge test, which can be used to mimic exercise-like stress.
Methods: Wistar-Kyoto normotensive (WKY) and spontaneously hypertensive (SH) rats implanted with radiotelemeters and a chronic intravenous catheter were whole-body exposed to 150 μg/m3 DE for 4 hr. Increasing doses of dobutamine, a β1-adrenergic agonist, were administered to conscious unrestrained rats 24 hr later to elicit the cardiac response observed during exercise while heart rate (HR) and electrocardiogram (ECG) were monitored.
Results: A single exposure to DE potentiated the HR response of WKY and SH rats during dobutamine challenge and prevented HR recovery at rest. During peak challenge, DE-exposed SH rats had lower overall HR variability when compared with controls, in addition to transient ST depression. All DE-exposed animals also had increased arrhythmias.
Conclusions: These results are the first evidence that rats exhibit stress-induced cardiac dysrhythmia and ischemia sensitivity comparable to humans after a single exposure to a toxic air pollutant, particularly when in the presence of underlying cardiovascular disease. Thus, exposure to low concentrations of air pollution can impair the heart’s ability to respond to stress and increase the risk of subsequent triggered dysfunction.
doi:10.1289/ehp.1104684
PMCID: PMC3440084  PMID: 22543081
air pollution; arrhythmia; cardiac; diesel exhaust; dobutamine; “stress” test
5.  Overt and Latent Cardiac Effects of Ozone Inhalation in Rats: Evidence for Autonomic Modulation and Increased Myocardial Vulnerability 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2011;120(3):348-354.
Background: Ozone (O3) is a well-documented respiratory oxidant, but increasing epidemiological evidence points to extrapulmonary effects, including positive associations between ambient O3 concentrations and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.
Objective: With preliminary reports linking O3 exposure with changes in heart rate (HR), we investigated the hypothesis that a single inhalation exposure to O3 will cause concentration-dependent autonomic modulation of cardiac function in rats.
Methods: Rats implanted with telemeters to monitor HR and cardiac electrophysiology [electrocardiography (ECG)] were exposed once by whole-body inhalation for 4 hr to 0.2 or 0.8 ppm O3 or filtered air. A separate cohort was tested for vulnerability to aconitine-induced arrhythmia 24 hr after exposure.
Results: Exposure to 0.8 ppm O3 caused bradycardia, PR prolongation, ST depression, and substantial increases in atrial premature beats, sinoatrial block, and atrioventricular block, accompanied by concurrent increases in several HR variability parameters that were suggestive of increased parasympathetic tone. Low-O3 exposure failed to elicit any overt changes in autonomic tone, heart rhythm, or ECG. However, both 0.2 and 0.8 ppm O3 increased sensitivity to aconitine-induced arrhythmia formation, suggesting a latent O3-induced alteration in myocardial excitability.
Conclusions: O3 exposure causes several alterations in cardiac electrophysiology that are likely mediated by modulation of autonomic input to the heart. Moreover, exposure to low O3 concentrations may cause subclinical effects that manifest only when triggered by a stressor, suggesting that the adverse health effects of ambient levels of air pollutants may be insidious and potentially underestimated.
doi:10.1289/ehp.1104244
PMCID: PMC3295357  PMID: 22138703
air pollution; arrhythmia; autonomic; cardiac; electrocardiogram; heart rate variability; inhalation; latent; overt; ozone; rats
6.  TRPA1 and Sympathetic Activation Contribute to Increased Risk of Triggered Cardiac Arrhythmias in Hypertensive Rats Exposed to Diesel Exhaust 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2011;119(7):951-957.
Background: Diesel exhaust (DE), which is emitted from on- and off-road sources, is a complex mixture of toxic gaseous and particulate components that leads to triggered adverse cardiovascular effects such as arrhythmias.
Objective: We hypothesized that increased risk of triggered arrhythmias 1 day after DE exposure is mediated by airway sensory nerves bearing transient receptor potential (TRP) channels [e.g., transient receptor potential cation channel, member A1 (TRPA1)] that, when activated by noxious chemicals, can cause a centrally mediated autonomic imbalance and heightened risk of arrhythmia.
Methods: Spontaneously hypertensive rats implanted with radiotelemeters were whole-body exposed to either 500 μg/m3 (high) or 150 μg/m3 (low) whole DE (wDE) or filtered DE (fDE), or to filtered air (controls), for 4 hr. Arrhythmogenesis was assessed 24 hr later by continuous intravenous infusion of aconitine, an arrhythmogenic drug, while heart rate (HR) and electrocardiogram (ECG) were monitored.
Results: Rats exposed to wDE or fDE had slightly higher HRs and increased low-frequency:high-frequency ratios (sympathetic modulation) than did controls; ECG showed prolonged ventricular depolarization and shortened repolarization periods. Rats exposed to wDE developed arrhythmia at lower doses of aconitine than did controls; the dose was even lower in rats exposed to fDE. Pretreatment of low wDE–exposed rats with a TRPA1 antagonist or sympathetic blockade prevented the heightened sensitivity to arrhythmia.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that a single exposure to DE increases the sensitivity of the heart to triggered arrhythmias. The gaseous components appear to play an important role in the proarrhythmic response, which may be mediated by activation of TRPA1, and subsequent sympathetic modulation. As such, toxic inhalants may partly exhibit their toxicity by lowering the threshold for secondary triggers, complicating assessment of their risk.
doi:10.1289/ehp.1003200
PMCID: PMC3223009  PMID: 21377951
air pollution; arrhythmia; cardiac; diesel exhaust; sympathetic; TRPA1
7.  Endothelial effects of emission source particles: Acute toxic response gene expression profiles 
Air pollution epidemiology has established a strong association between exposure to ambient particulate matter (PM) and cardiovascular outcomes. Experimental studies in both humans and laboratory animals support varied biological mechanisms including endothelial dysfunction as potentially a central step to the elicitation of cardiovascular events. We therefore hypothesized that relevant early molecular alterations on endothelial cells should be assessable in vitro upon acute exposure to PM components previously shown to be involved in health outcomes. Using a model emission PM, residual oil fly ash and one of its predominant constituents (vanadium-V), we focused on the development of gene expression profiles to fingerprint that particle and its constituents to explore potential biomarkers for PM-induced endothelial dysfunction. Here we present differential gene expression and transcription factor activation profiles in human vascular endothelial cells exposed to a non-cytotoxic dose of fly ash or V following semi-global gene expression profiling of ∼8000 genes. Both fly ash and it's prime constituent, V, induced alterations in genes involved in passive and active transport of solutes across the membrane; voltage-dependent ion pumps; induction of extracellular matrix proteins and adhesion molecules; and activation of numerous kinases involved in signal transduction pathways. These preliminary data suggest that cardiovascular effects associated with exposure to PM may be mediated by perturbations in endothelial cell permeability, membrane integrity; and ultimately endothelial dysfunction.
doi:10.1016/j.tiv.2008.10.004
PMCID: PMC2747330  PMID: 19000753
Endothelial; Particulate matter; Vascular effects
8.  Increased Nonconducted P-Wave Arrhythmias after a Single Oil Fly Ash Inhalation Exposure in Hypertensive Rats 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2008;117(5):709-715.
Background
Exposure to combustion-derived fine particulate matter (PM) is associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality especially in individuals with cardiovascular disease, including hypertension. PM inhalation causes several adverse changes in cardiac function that are reflected in the electrocardiogram (ECG), including altered cardiac rhythm, myocardial ischemia, and reduced heart rate variability (HRV). The sensitivity and reliability of ECG-derived parameters as indicators of the cardiovascular toxicity of PM in rats are unclear.
Objective
We hypothesized that spontaneously hypertensive (SH) rats are more susceptible to the development of PM-induced arrhythmia, altered ECG morphology, and reduced HRV than are Wistar Kyoto (WKY) rats, a related strain with normal blood pressure.
Methods
We exposed rats once by nose-only inhalation for 4 hr to residual oil fly ash (ROFA), an emission source particle rich in transition metals, or to air and then sacrificed them 1 or 48 hr later.
Results
ROFA-exposed SH rats developed nonconducted P-wave arrhythmias but no changes in ECG morphology or HRV. We found no ECG effects in ROFA-exposed WKY rats. ROFA-exposed SH rats also had greater pulmonary injury, neutrophil infiltration, and serum C-reactive protein than did ROFA-exposed WKY rats.
Conclusions
These results suggest that cardiac arrhythmias may be an early sensitive indicator of the propensity for PM inhalation to modify cardiovascular function.
doi:10.1289/ehp.0800129
PMCID: PMC2685831  PMID: 19479011
arrhythmia; electrocardiogram; heart rate variability; hypertension; inhalation; nonconducted P-waves; particulate matter; rats; residual oil fly ash
9.  Spontaneous Airway Hyperresponsiveness in Estrogen Receptor-α–deficient Mice 
Rationale: Airway hyperresponsiveness is a critical feature of asthma. Substantial epidemiologic evidence supports a role for female sex hormones in modulating lung function and airway hyperresponsiveness in humans.
Objectives: To examine the role of estrogen receptors in modulating lung function and airway responsiveness using estrogen receptor–deficient mice.
Methods: Lung function was assessed by a combination of whole-body barometric plethysmography, invasive measurement of airway resistance, and isometric force measurements in isolated bronchial rings. M2 muscarinic receptor expression was assessed by Western blotting, and function was assessed by electrical field stimulation of tracheas in the presence/absence of gallamine. Allergic airway disease was examined after ovalbumin sensitization and exposure.
Measurements and Main Results: Estrogen receptor-α knockout mice exhibit a variety of lung function abnormalities and have enhanced airway responsiveness to inhaled methacholine and serotonin under basal conditions. This is associated with reduced M2 muscarinic receptor expression and function in the lungs. Absence of estrogen receptor-α also leads to increased airway responsiveness without increased inflammation after allergen sensitization and challenge.
Conclusions: These data suggest that estrogen receptor-α is a critical regulator of airway hyperresponsiveness in mice.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200509-1493OC
PMCID: PMC1899278  PMID: 17095746
lung function; asthma; hyperreactivity; M2 muscarinic receptor; estrogen receptor
10.  Spontaneous Airway Hyperresponsiveness in Estrogen Receptor-α–deficient Mice 
Rationale
Airway hyperresponsiveness is a critical feature of asthma. Substantial epidemiologic evidence supports a role for female sex hormones in modulating lung function and airway hyperresponsiveness in humans.
Objectives
To examine the role of estrogen receptors in modulating lung function and airway responsiveness using estrogen receptor–deficient mice.
Methods
Lung function was assessed by a combination of whole-body barometric plethysmography, invasive measurement of airway resistance, and isometric force measurements in isolated bronchial rings. M2 muscarinic receptor expression was assessed by Western blotting, and function was assessed by electrical field stimulation of tracheas in the presence/absence of gallamine. Allergic airway disease was examined after ovalbumin sensitization and exposure.
Measurements and Main Results
Estrogen receptor-α knockout mice exhibit a variety of lung function abnormalities and have enhanced airway responsiveness to inhaled methacholine and serotonin under basal conditions. This is associated with reduced M2 muscarinic receptor expression and function in the lungs. Absence of estrogen receptor-α also leads to increased airway responsiveness without increased inflammation after allergen sensitization and challenge.
Conclusions
These data suggest that estrogen receptor-α is a critical regulator of airway hyperresponsiveness in mice.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200509-1493OC
PMCID: PMC1899278  PMID: 17095746
lung function; asthma; hyperreactivity; M2 muscarinic receptor; estrogen receptor
11.  Metal composition of ambient PM2.5 influences severity of allergic airways disease in mice. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2003;111(12):1471-1477.
Children living in Hettstedt in eastern Germany have been reported to have a higher prevalence of sensitization to common aeroallergens than another cohort living in the neighboring city of Zerbst; these differences correlated with the presence of industrial air pollution. Samples of fine particulate matter (< 2.5 micro m aerodynamic diameter; PM(2.5)) collected in Hettstedt in 1999 had several-fold higher levels of zinc, magnesium, lead, copper, and cadmium than samples from Zerbst. To determine if the results from epidemiologic studies could be repeated in an animal model, we administered PM(2.5) from Hettstedt and Zerbst to ovalbumin-allergic mice. In Balb/c mice, PM(2.5) from Hettstedt, but not PM(2.5) from Zerbst or control filter extract, caused a significant increase in immediate responses to ovalbumin challenge when aspirated 2 hr before challenge, but not when aspirated immediately before sensitization 2 weeks earlier. Antigen-specific IgE was increased by Hettstedt PM(2.5) whether administered before sensitization or challenge. Airway responsiveness to methacholine aerosol and lung inflammatory cell numbers were significantly increased only in allergic mice exposed to Hettstedt PM(2.5) before challenge. Both Hettstedt and Zerbst PM(2.5) significantly increased lung injury parameters and proinflammatory cytokines. These results are consistent with epidemiologic findings and show that metal composition of ambient PM(2.5) influences the severity of allergic respiratory disease.
PMCID: PMC1241649  PMID: 12948886
12.  World Trade Center fine particulate matter causes respiratory tract hyperresponsiveness in mice. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2003;111(7):981-991.
Pollutants originating from the destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City on 11 September 2001 have been reported to cause adverse respiratory responses in rescue workers and nearby residents. We examined whether WTC-derived fine particulate matter [particulate matter with a mass median aerodynamic diameter < 2.5 microm (PM2.5)] has detrimental respiratory effects in mice to contribute to the risk assessment of WTC-derived pollutants. Samples of WTC PM2.5 were derived from settled dust collected at several locations around Ground Zero on 12 and 13 September 2001. Aspirated samples of WTC PM2.5 induced mild to moderate degrees of pulmonary inflammation 1 day after exposure but only at a relatively high dose (100 microg). This response was not as great as that caused by 100 microg PM2.5 derived from residual oil fly ash (ROFA) or Washington, DC, ambient air PM [National Institute of Standards and Technology, Standard Reference Material (SRM) 1649a]. However, this same dose of WTC PM2.5 caused airway hyperresponsiveness to methacholine aerosol comparable to that from SRM 1649a and to a greater degree than that from ROFA. Mice exposed to lower doses by aspiration or inhalation exposure did not develop significant inflammation or hyperresponsiveness. These results show that exposure to high levels of WTC PM2.5 can promote mechanisms of airflow obstruction in mice. Airborne concentrations of WTC PM2.5 that would cause comparable doses in people are high (approximately 425 microg/m3 for 8 hr) but conceivable in the aftermath of the collapse of the towers when rescue and salvage efforts were in effect. We conclude that a high-level exposure to WTC PM2.5 could cause pulmonary inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness in people. The effects of chronic exposures to lower levels of WTC PM2.5, the persistence of any respiratory effects, and the effects of coarser WTC PM are unknown and were not examined in these studies. Degree of exposure and respiratory protection, individual differences in sensitivity to WTC PM2.5, and species differences in responses must be considered in assessing the risks of exposure to WTC PM2.5.
PMCID: PMC1241535  PMID: 12782502
13.  Chemical analysis of World Trade Center fine particulate matter for use in toxicologic assessment. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2003;111(7):972-980.
The catastrophic destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC) on 11 September 2001 caused the release of high levels of airborne pollutants into the local environment. To assess the toxicity of fine particulate matter [particulate matter with a mass median aerodynamic diameter < 2.5 microm (PM2.5)], which may adversely affect the health of workers and residents in the area, we collected fallen dust samples on 12 and 13 September 2001 from sites within a half-mile of Ground Zero. Samples of WTC dust were sieved, aerosolized, and size-separated, and the PM2.5 fraction was isolated on filters. Here we report the chemical and physical properties of PM2.5 derived from these samples and compare them with PM2.5 fractions of three reference materials that range in toxicity from relatively inert to acutely toxic (Mt. St. Helens PM; Washington, DC, ambient air PM; and residual oil fly ash). X-ray diffraction of very coarse sieved WTC PM (< 53 microm) identified calcium sulfate (gypsum) and calcium carbonate (calcite) as major components. Scanning electron microscopy confirmed that calcium-sulfur and calcium-carbon particles were also present in the WTC PM2.5 fraction. Analysis of WTC PM2.5 using X-ray fluorescence, neutron activation analysis, and inductively coupled plasma spectrometry showed high levels of calcium (range, 22-33%) and sulfur (37-43% as sulfate) and much lower levels of transition metals and other elements. Aqueous extracts of WTC PM2.5 were basic (pH range, 8.9-10.0) and had no evidence of significant bacterial contamination. Levels of carbon were relatively low, suggesting that combustion-derived particles did not form a significant fraction of these samples recovered in the immediate aftermath of the destruction of the towers. Because gypsum and calcite are known to cause irritation of the mucus membranes of the eyes and respiratory tract, inhalation of high doses of WTC PM2.5 could potentially cause toxic respiratory effects.
PMCID: PMC1241534  PMID: 12782501

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