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Ambient fine particulate matter inhibits innate airway antimicrobial activity in preschool children in e-waste areas

Zhang, Shaocheng, Huo, Xia, Zhang, Yu, Huang, Yu, Zheng, Xiangbin, Xu, Xijin
Environment international 2019 v.123 pp. 535-542
agglutinins, air, antimicrobial properties, antimicrobial proteins, electronic wastes, interleukin-8, leukocyte count, monocytes, neutrophils, particulates, pathogens, pollution, preschool children, respiratory tract diseases, risk factors, saliva, tumor necrosis factor-alpha
Ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is a risk factor for respiratory diseases. Previous studies suggest that PM2.5 exposure may down-regulate airway antimicrobial proteins and peptides (AMPs), thereby accelerating airway pathogen infection. However, epidemiological research is scarce. Hence, we estimated the associations between individual PM2.5 chronic daily intake (CDI) and the levels of the airway AMP salivary agglutinin (SAG), as well as peripheral leukocyte counts and pro-inflammatory cytokines, of preschool children in Guiyu (an e-waste area) and Haojiang (a reference area located 31.6 km to the east of Guiyu). We recruited 581 preschool children from Guiyu and Haojiang, of which 222 were included in this study for a matching design (Guiyu: n = 110 vs. Haojiang: n = 112). Air PM2.5 pollution data was collected to calculate individual PM2.5 CDI. The mean concentration of PM2.5 in Guiyu was higher than in Haojiang, resulting in a higher individual PM2.5 CDI. Concomitantly, saliva SAG levels were lower in Guiyu children (5.05 ng/mL) than in Haojiang children (8.68 ng/mL), and were negatively correlated with CDI. Additionally, peripheral counts of white blood cells, and the concentrations of interleukin-8 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha, in Guiyu children were greater than in Haojiang children, and were positively associated with CDI. Similar results were found for neutrophils and monocytes. To our knowledge, this is the first study on the relationship between PM2.5 exposure and innate airway antimicrobial activity in children, in an e-waste area, showing that PM2.5 pollution may weaken airway antimicrobial activity by down-regulation of saliva SAG levels, which might accelerate airway pathogen infection in children.