Air pollution is caused by any particulate matter, chemical, or biological agent that changes the natural characteristics of the atmosphere.
Exposure to particulate matter has been linked to an increased risk of heart problems, including increased risk of heart attack.
In a new study, Gökhan Mutlu and colleagues at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, have identified in mice a mechanism by which exposure to particulate matter leads to accelerated blood clotting and thrombosis, something that can precipitate heart attacks and stroke.
Mice exposed to particulate matter were shown to have decreased bleeding times, accelerated blood clotting, and accelerated formation of an arterial thrombus.
As these effects of exposure to particulate matter were not observed in mice lacking IL-6 or depleted of lung macrophages, the authors suggested that particulate matter triggers lung macrophages to produce IL-6 that then mediates altered blood clotting and enhanced thrombus formation.
This study provides evidence to suggest that targeting IL-6 might decrease the risk of heart problems caused by exposure to particulate matter.
Article: "Ambient particulate matter accelerates coagulation via an IL-6--dependent pathway"
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