Ambient air quality as risk factor for microscopic colitis - A geographic information system (GIS) study

Bas P. M. Verhaegh*, Esmee M. Bijnens, Tim R. A. van den Heuvel, Danny Goudkade, Maurice P. Zeegers, Tim S. Nawrot, Ad A. M. Masclee, Daisy M. A. E. Jonkers, Marieke J. Pierik

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Microscopic colitis (MC) is considered a multifactorial disease, strongly associated with smoking. However, little is known about the role of environmental factors such as ambient air pollution in MC pathophysiology. There is an overlap in components of cigarette smoke and ambient air pollution. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore an independent association between ambient air quality and MC.

Methods: A case-control study was performed. MC cases in South Limburg, the Netherlands, diagnosed between 2000 and 2012, were retrieved from the national pathology registry and matched to non-MC controls from the same area based on age (+/- 2 years) and gender. A stable residential address for >= 3 years was required. Residential land use, proximity to major road, and concentrations of air pollution compounds, were determined using a Geographic Information System (GIS). Univariate and multivariable regression analyses were corrected for age, gender and smoking status.

Results: In total, 345 MC cases (78.6% female) and 583 matched controls (77.2% female) were included. In the univariate analyses, the percentage of urban green within a 500 m buffer and residential proximity to the nearest highway were associated with MC (both p <0.10). On the multivariable level only a higher age at diagnosis (OR 1.02, 95%-CI 1.01-1.04) and current smoking at index date (OR 4.30; 95%-CI 3.01-6.14) were significantly associated with MC.

Conclusion: Based on the current findings, ambient air quality does not seem to be an important risk factor for MC, in contrast to the well-known risk factors age and current smoking.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108710
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • Microscopic colitis
  • Epidemiology
  • Risk factors
  • Environmental factors
  • Air pollution

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