Particulate matter air pollution exposure promotes recruitment of monocytes into atherosclerotic plaques

Kazuhiro Yatera, Joanne Hsieh, James C. Hogg, Erin Tranfield, Hisashi Suzuki, Chih Horng Shih, Ali Reza Behzad, Renaud Vincent, Stephan F. Van Eeden*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    73 Scopus citations


    Epidemiologic studies have shown an association between exposure to ambient particulate air pollution <10 μm in diameter (PM10) and increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. We previously showed that PM10 exposure causes progression of atherosclerosis in coronary arteries. We postulate that the recruitment of monocytes from the circulation into atherosclerotic lesions is a key step in this PM10-induced acceleration of atherosclerosis. The study objective was to quantify the recruitment of circulating monocytes into vessel walls and the progression of atherosclerotic plaques induced by exposure to PM10. Female Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic rabbits, which naturally develop systemic atherosclerosis, were exposed to PM10 (EHC-93) or vehicle by intratracheal instillation twice a week for 4 wk. Monocytes, labeled with 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU) in donors, were transfused to recipient rabbits as whole blood, and the recruitment of BrdU-labeled cells into vessel walls and plaques in recipients was measured by quantitative histological methodology. Exposure to PM10 caused progression of atherosclerotic lesions in thoracic and abdominal aorta. It also decreased circulating monocyte counts, decreased circulating monocytes expressing high levels of CD31 (platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1) and CD49d (very late antigen-4 α-chain), and increased expression of CD54 (ICAM-1) and CD106 (VCAM-1) in plaques. Exposure to PM10 increased the number of BrdU-labeled monocytes adherent to endothelium over plaques and increased the migration of BrdU-labeled monocytes into plaques and smooth muscle underneath plaques. We conclude that exposure to ambient air pollution particles promotes the recruitment of circulating monocytes into atherosclerotic plaques and speculate that this is a critically important step in the PM10-induced progression of atherosclerosis.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Feb 1 2008


    • Adhesion molecules
    • Atherosclerosis

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Physiology
    • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
    • Physiology (medical)


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