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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Rutgers: Study Investigates the Impact of Urban Air Pollution on Tuberculosis Immunity

Rutgers School of Public Health Associate Professor, Dr. Stephan Schwander, along with colleagues, found that urban air pollution suppresses protective immune responses to Mycobacterium tuberculosis in both lung immune and autologous blood cells. The new study investigates the impact urban air pollution has on the health of people’s lungs living in Mexico City, where tuberculosis (TB)  is still endemic.

Rapid global urbanization trends and exposure to urban airborne particulate matter (PM) represents a major global public health concern. These concerns are multiplied in areas and countries where TB is still endemic. The study addresses the seriousness of urbanization in TB endemic areas. Researchers examine whether in vivo exposure to urban outdoor PM in Mexico City and in vitro exposure to urban outdoor PM alters human host immune cell responses to M. tuberculosis.

The researchers found PM load in alveolar macrophages is correlated with altered M. tuberculosis-induced cytokine production in the lung and systemic compartments. The result of habitual exposure to PM with high constitutive expression of proinflammatory cytokines is relative cellular unresponsiveness.

“With increasing urbanization and industrialization globally and in TB endemic areas, our findings and the growing body of evidence that air pollution increases the risk of TB, indicate that global TB control efforts will more likely succeed if environmental improvements in TB endemic areas worldwide take place,” said Dr. Schwander.

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