Physicians' Academy for Cardiovascular Education

More air pollutants, fewer HDL particles

Association of Air Pollution Exposures With High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol and Particle Number: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis

Literature - Bell G, Mora S, Greenland P, et al. - Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2017;37:published online ahead of print


Although HDL-C is inversely associated with cardiovascular events, there is no evidence showing that HDL-C elevations are associated with a clinical benefit [1,2]. One reason could be that the measurement of HDL particle number (HDL-P) may better reflect the cardio-protective effects of HDL compared with HDL-C [3,4]. Ambient air pollution, which may negatively influence the HDL concentrations through inflammation and oxidative stress, is associated with atherosclerosis, heart failure and cardiovascular death [5,6].

In this analysis of the MESA study (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis Air Pollution), the associations between long- and short-term concentrations of the traffic-related air pollutants PM2.5 or black carbon (BC) and HDL-c or HDL-P were evaluated in a multi-ethnic cohort of 6654 adults without cardiovascular disease. Long-term exposure periods were averaged to 12 months, 3 months and 2 weeks prior to examination. Short-term averaging periods estimate average PM2.5 exposure on the day of blood draw, the day before blood draw, and a moving average of the previous 5 days of PM2.5 exposure

Main results


In a large, multi-ethnic cohort without cardiovascular disease, exposure to high levels of the traffic-related pollutants PM2.5 (3 months) and BC (1 year) was associated with changes in several measures of HDL. Moreover, short-term exposure was associated with lower HDL-P. These findings suggest that the negative influence of air pollutants on HDL, may explain the increased cardiovascular risk under these environmental conditions.


Show references

Find this article online at Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol.

Share this page with your colleagues and friends: