Chronic exposure to urban air pollution from Buenos Aires: the ocular mucosa as an early biomarker
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Air pollution represents a major health problem in megacities, bringing about 8 million deaths every year. The aim of the study was to evaluate in vivo the ocular and respiratory mucosa biological response after chronic exposure to urban air particles from Buenos Aires (UAP-BA). BALB/c mice were exposed to UAP-BA or filtered air for 1, 6, 9, and 12 months. After exposure, histology, histomorphometry, and IL-6 proinflammatory cytokine level were evaluated in the respiratory and ocular mucosa. Total cell number and differential cell count were determined in the brochoalveolar lavage fluid. In the lung, chronic exposure to UAP-BA induced reduction of the alveolar space, polymorhonuclear cell recruitment, and goblet cell hyperplasia. In the ocular surface, UAP-BA induced an initial mucin positive cells rise followed by a decline through time, while IL-6 level increased at the latest point-time assayed. Our results showed that the respiratory and the ocular mucosas respond differently to UAP-BA. Being that lung and ocular mucosa diseases may be triggered and/or exacerbated by chronic exposure to urban air PM, the inhabitants of Buenos Aires whom are chronically exposed to environmental urban air pollution may be considered a subpopulation at risk. Based on our results, we propose the ocular mucosa as a reliable and more accessible surrogate for pulmonary mucosa environmental toxicity that might also serve as an earlier biomarker for air pollution adverse impact on health.
KeywordsUrban air pollution Ocular surface Lung Inflammation Buenos Aires
The authors would thank Ms. Mariela Lacave for her technical assistance.
This work was partially supported by the National Agency for the Promotion of Science and Technology, Argentina; contract grant number: PICT 2010-1661.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
None of the authors had any financial or personal conflict of interest.
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