Sex-specific association of exposure to air pollutants and Nrf2 gene expression and inflammatory biomarkers in exhaled breath of healthy adolescents


Studies investigating the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) expression levels in the respiratory system of healthy subjects are scarce. Moreover, separate studies on the health-related outcomes of air pollution for each sex are limited. The current panel study investigated sex-specific Nrf2 expression levels and related oxidative stress and inflammatory responses among healthy adolescents exposed to PM2.5, PM10, O3, and PM2.5-bounded metals in a high traffic region. Forty-nine healthy nonsmoking subjects participated in the study for five consecutive months (Nov. 2019 to Feb. 2020). Each subject was asked to provide 1 mL of exhaled breath condensate (EBC). Data were analyzed using linear mixed-effects models. The results showed that PM10, PM2.5, O3, and PM2.5-bounded metals were negatively linked to Nrf2 expression level in EBC of females with -58.3% (95% CI: 79.5, -15.4), -32.1% (95% CI: -50.3, -7.1), -76.2% (95% CI: -92.6, -23.9), and -1.9 (95% CI: -3.4, -0.4), respectively. While our results presented no significant association between the studied pollutants and Nrf2 gene expression in males, significant associations were observed between the pollutants and total nitric oxide (NOx), interleukins 6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) in the EBC of females. In the case of males, only EBC cytokines showed a significant association with air pollutants. Overall, this study suggests that exposure to ambient air pollutants may affect the respiratory system with biologically different mechanisms in males and females. PM2.5 concentration had a positive correlation with exhaled TNF-α and IL6 values in females while positive correlation with TNF-α and negative correlation with IL6 values in males. O3 had a negative correlation with TNF-α in males.

Authors: Zahra Sabeti, Atefeh Ansarin, Khalil Ansarin, Venus Zafari, Ensiyeh Seyedrezazadeh, Mohammad Shakerkhatibi, Mohammad Asghari-Jafarabadi, Saeed Dastgiri, Khaled Zoroufchi Benis, Maryam Sepehri, Zhila Khamnian
; Full Source: Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987) 2023 Mar 21;326:121463. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2023.121463.