Prolonged Air Pollution Results In Metabolic Dysfunction Which Leads To Obesity

Posted: Feb 22 2016, 5:48am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

Fog in Beijing
Photo credit: Getty Images

A new study published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and titled "Chronic Exposure to Air Pollution Particles Increases the Risk of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome: Findings from a Natural Experiment in Beijing" suggests that prolonged exposure to air pollution leads to metabolic dysfunction and ultimately to obesity.

The research was conducted on lab mice, finding that rats which took in polluted air from Beijing experienced weight gain and cardiovascular as well as metabolic problems between 3-8 weeks of exposure to the bad air. Two groups of lab mice were placed in a chamber, one group was pregnant mice and offspring placed within a chamber containing Beijing air, and the other group placed within a chamber with air filters that removed air pollutants.

Just 19 days after, the pregnant mice exposed to air pollution had swollen lungs and livers with signs of inflammation. These rats had 50 percent higher LDL cholesterol; 46 percent higher triglycerides; and 97 percent higher total cholesterol. Their insulin resistance level, a precursor of Type 2 diabetes, was higher than their clean air-breathing counterparts.

The offspring showed the same level of metabolic dysfunction which could lead to obesity just as their pregnant mothers regardless of the fact that they were fed the same diet. The only issue is that the amount of ill-health experienced by the rats at 3 weeks of exposure to contaminated air is not as much as the one experienced after 8 weeks of exposure. Again, 8-week-old female rats gained 10% weight after exposure to polluted air while male rats gained 18% weight than others not exposed to contaminated air.

"Since chronic inflammation is recognized as a factor contributing to obesity and since metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity are closely related, our findings provide clear evidence that chronic exposure to air pollution increases the risk for developing obesity," said Junfeng "Jim" Zhang, a professor of global and environmental health at Duke University and a senior author of the paper.

"If translated and verified in humans, these findings will support the urgent need to reduce air pollution, given the growing burden of obesity in today's highly polluted world," he added.

The study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Open Fund of the State key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and pollution Control, and the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/52" rel="author">Charles I. Omedo</a>
Charles is covering the latest discoveries in science and health as well as new developments in technology. He is the Chief Editor or Intel-News.




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