Thursday, July 26, 2007

Diesel fumes help to clog arteries

Diesel pollution 'clogs arteries' BBCNews 7/26/07 "Diesel fumes appear to combine with artery-clogging fats to raise the risk of heart disease...Scientists found the two act in concert to switch on genes that cause potentially dangerous inflammation of the blood vessels...Lead researcher Dr André Nel, an expert in nanomedicine, said the impact of diesel particles and cholesterol fats combined was much greater than the impact of each in isolation...researchers focused on the interaction between diesel exhaust particles and fatty acids found in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol - the "bad" type of cholesterol that leads to artery blockage. Both are sources of molecules called free radicals which cause cell and tissue damage, and can trigger the inflammation that leads to artery disease...Exactly how air pollutants cause cardiovascular injury is poorly understood. "But we do know that these particles are coated with chemicals that damage tissue and cause inflammation of the nose and lungs. "Vascular inflammation in turn leads to cholesterol deposits and clogged arteries, which can give rise to blood clots that trigger heart attack or stroke."..."

I find it amazing how many things in our environment turn on or off genes, or at least change the expression to varying degrees for varying durations. As for the story above and ilk, we're dealing with something different than pleiotropy, different than evolved phenotypic expression for various environments, it is different than epigenetics caused by natural compounds, it is a change of genetic expression caused individually, or in combination by hundreds and more likely many thousands of novel compounds, or semi novel compounds. Not sure what the term would be for this. This story is under reported in the media, like many important stories.

Incidentally I just came across this well written article from 2004 in The Scientist on epigenetics. Ends with the notion that we'll have to study many diseases from the perspective of genetics, epigenetics, and environmental factors. Yup, and the interaction may prove more complicated than they imagined.

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