Short-term particulate matter exposure induces extracellular vesicle release in overweight subjects

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Extracellular vesicles (EVs) represent a plausible molecular mechanism linking particulate matter (PM) inhalation to its systemic effects. Microvesicles (MVs) are released from many cell types in response to various stimuli. Increased body mass index (BMI) could modify the response to PM exposure due to enhanced PM uptake and/or an underlying pro-oxidative state.


We investigated the relationship between EV release and PM10/PM2.5 exposure in a cohort of 51 volunteers. Subjects were stratified based on their BMI to evaluate whether overweight BMI is a determinant of hypersusceptibility to PM effects.


Exposure to PM10/PM2.5 was assessed with a personal sampler worn for 24 hours before plasma collection and confirmed with monitoring station data. Size and cellular origin of plasma EVs were characterized by Nanosight analysis and flow cytometry, respectively. Multivariate regression models were run after log-transformation, stratifying subjects based on BMI (≥ or <25 kg/m2).


PM exposure resulted in increased release of EVs, with the maximum observed effect for endothelial MVs. For PM10 and PM2.5, the adjusted geometric mean ratio and 95% confidence interval were 3.47 (1.30, 9.27) and 3.14 (1.23, 8.02), respectively. Compared to those in normal subjects, PM-induced EV alterations in overweight subjects were more pronounced, with visibly effect in all MV subtypes, particularly endothelial MVs.


Our findings emphasize the role of EV release after PM exposure and the susceptibility of overweight subjects. Larger studies with accurate exposure assessment and complete EVs characterization/content analysis, could further clarify the molecular mechanism responsible for PM effects and of hypersusceptibility of overweight subjects.

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