Scientists shed light on why people with lung conditions are vulnerable to air pollution
Researchers in Japan have been investigating why air pollution is particularly harmful to people with lung conditions.
Being exposed to air pollution can trigger symptoms among people with lung conditions, such as asthma attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations, difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing and irritation. However, the bodily mechanisms that lead to this response are still unclear.
This new study, published in the journal, Immunity, looked at how the immune system responded to a common pollutant, particulate matter (PM) 2.5, among a group of mice.
Scientists found that PM 2.5 seemed to destroy immune cells called macrophages, which would then go on to release a substance called interleukin which is associated with inflammation. This then set off a chain of events that caused common symptoms among people with lung conditions.
The researchers are hopeful that greater understanding of this process could help with the development of treatments to protect people from experiencing pollution-related symptoms – however, more research is needed.