Particulate air pollution is associated with increased risk of pulmonary diseases and detrimental outcomes related to the cardiovascular system, including altered vessel functions. This study's objective was too evaluate the effects of ambient particle exposure on the blood-gas permeability, lung function and Clara cell 16 (CC16) protein release in healthy young subjects. Twenty-nine nonsmokers participated in a randomized, two-factor crossover study with or without biking exercise for 180 min and with 24-h exposure to particle-rich (6169-15,362 particles/cm(3); 7.0-11.6 microg/m(3) PM(2.5); 7.5-15.8 microg/m(3) PM(10-2.5)) or filtered (91-542 particles/cm(3)) air collected above a busy street. The clearance rate of aerosolized (99m)Tc-labeled diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid ((99m)Tc-DTPA) was measured as an index for the alveolar epithelial membrane integrity and permeability of the lung blood-gas barrier after rush-hour exposure. Lung function was assessed using body plethysmography, flow-volume curves, and measurements of the diffusion capacity of carbon monoxide. CC16 was measured in plasma and urine as another marker of alveolar integrity. Particulate matter exposure had no significant effect on the epithelial membrane integrity using the methods available in this study. Exercise increased the clearance rate of (99m)Tc-DTPA indicated by a 6.8% (95% CI: 0.4-12.8%) shorter half-life and this was more pronounced in men than women. Neither particulate matter exposure nor exercise had an effect on the concentration of CC16 in plasma and urine or on the static and dynamic volumes or ventilation distribution of the lungs. The study thus demonstrates increased permeability of the alveolar blood-gas barrier following moderate exercise, whereas exposure to ambient levels of urban air particles has no detectable effects on the alveolar blood-gas barrier or lung function.
Inhalation Toxicology, 2009, Vol 21, Issue 1, p. 38-47