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Men and women respond differently to diesel exhaust

Presented By
Dr Mahadevappa Hemshekhar, University of Manitoba, Canada
ERS 2022

Sex-related differences in response to diesel exhaust (DE) were reported in a plasma proteomics analysis. The differences could be translated to the level of ‘functional groups’, such as inflammation, oxidative stress, and cardiovascular disease. It is essential to take sex-related differences into account when it concerns pollution-driven, biological effects in humans.

“Exposure to inhaled DE has been associated with inflammatory and metabolic changes, and is linked to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases,” outlined Dr Mahadevappa Hemshekhar (University of Manitoba, Canada) [1]. “Furthermore, the severity and prevalence of these diseases are different in men and women.” However, the underlying, traffic-related, air pollution-mediated protein changes have not been thoroughly investigated. The current study aimed to assess sex-related differences in response to real-world concentrations of DE. For this purpose, participants were randomised to 4 hours of exposure to filtered air (n=5) or to 4 hours of exposure to DE (20, 50, or 150 μg PM2.5/m3; n=5 each), with a 4-week washout period and a random cross-over after which another 4-hour exposure followed [1]. After 24 hours of exposure, plasma was obtained for proteomic profiling through liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry.

The results displayed that 97 proteins in men and 46 proteins in women were altered after exposure to DE. Interestingly, sex was an effect modifier of 57 proteins that were related to DE. These proteins could be organised in functional groups, such as inflammation, oxidative stress, cardiovascular diseases, and host defence peptides, and it was demonstrated that different patterns of expression could be observed for men and women. According to Dr Hemshekhar, this data demonstrates the importance of sex as a modifier of host response to air pollution and that sex is an essential factor in the understanding of the effect of traffic-related air pollution on humans.

  1. Hemshekhar M, et al. Plasma proteomics analysis reveals sex-related differences in response to diesel exhaust. Impact of the external and internal exposome on chronic lung disease, PA591, ERS International Congress 2022, Barcelona, Spain, 4‒6 September.

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