Diesel Exhaust Impairs Blood Flow to Marrow

Elderly most affected by exposure to the pollutant, researchers say

FRIDAY, May 4, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Diesel exhaust particles contain a chemical component called phenanthraquinone (PQ) that can harm the ability of arteries to regulate blood flow to bone marrow, a U.S. study finds.

That can have a number of long-term health effects, the researchers add.

Men, postmenopausal women, and elderly people are most likely to be affected, said a team at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Cardiovascular Sciences at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, in Morgantown.

The researchers conducted tests with rats. They found that exposure to PQ reduced by about 65 percent the ability of arteries to regulate blood flow to bone marrow in six- month-old male rats. PQ had a similar effect in older male and female rats and in young female rats whose ovaries had been removed.

Because young female rats with intact ovaries were not affected, it appears that estrogen may provide protective effects against PQ, the researchers said.

The study was presented April 24 at the annual meeting of the American Physiological Society, in Washington, D.C.

Previous research has found that PQ impaired the ability of larger blood vessels to relax and that exposure to particle pollution may worsen cardiovascular diseases in certain people.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about the health effects of air pollution.

SOURCE: American Physiological Society, news release, April 2007
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