Pulmonary and cardiovascular effects of traffic-related particulate matter: 4-week exposure of rats to roadside and diesel engine exhaust particles

Miriam E. Gerlofs-Nijland*, Annike I. Totlandsdal, Evren Kilinc, John A. F. Boere, Paul H. B. Fokkens, Daan L. A. C. Leseman, Constantinos Sioutas, Per E. Schwarze, Henri M. Spronk, Patrick W. F. Hadoke, Mark R. Miller, Flemming R. Cassee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Traffic-related particulate matter (PM) may play an important role in the development of adverse health effects, as documented extensively in acute toxicity studies. However, rather little is known about the impacts of prolonged exposure to PM. We hypothesized that long-term exposure to PM from traffic adversely affects the pulmonary and cardiovascular system through exacerbation of an inflammatory response. To examine this hypothesis, Fisher F344 rats, with a mild pulmonary inflammation at the onset of exposure, were exposed for 4 weeks, 5 days/week for 6 h a day to: (a) diluted diesel engine exhaust (PMDEE), or: (b) near roadside PM (PM2.5). Ultrafine particulates, which are largely present in diesel soot, may enter the systemic circulation and directly or indirectly trigger cardiovascular effects. Hence, we assessed the effects of traffic-related PM on pulmonary inflammation and activity of procoagulants, vascular function in arteries, and cytokine levels in the heart 24 h after termination of the exposures. No major adverse health effects of prolonged exposure to traffic-related PM were detected. However, some systemic effects due to PMDEE exposure occurred including decreased numbers of white blood cells and reduced von Willebrand factor protein in the circulation. In addition, lung tissue factor activity is reduced in conjunction with reduced lung tissue thrombin generation. To what extent these alterations contribute to thrombotic effects and vascular diseases remains to be established. In conclusion, prolonged exposure to traffic-related PM in healthy animals may not be detrimental due to various biological adaptive response mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1162-1173
JournalInhalation Toxicology
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • Traffic
  • particulate matter
  • PM
  • concentrated particles
  • pulmonary inflammation
  • diesel soot
  • vascular function
  • procoagulants
  • air pollution
  • toxicological

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