An animal study at Northwestern University in Chicago has shown how exposure to particulate matter leads to accelerated blood clotting and thrombosis, which can in turn cause heart attacks and stroke.
Particulates, chemical or biological agents that change the natural characteristics of the atmosphere, cause air pollution.
Gokhan Mutlu and colleagues at the Feinberg School of Medicine, affiliated to the university, have found that exposure to particulate matter causes mice to have decreased bleeding times, accelerated blood clotting, and accelerated formation of an arterial thrombus.
The researchers revealed that they did not see any such effects in mice lacking IL-6 or depleted of lung macrophages such effects were not observed in mice lacking IL-6 (Interleukin-6) or depleted of lung macrophages.
The authors of the study believe that particulate matter triggers lung macrophages to produce IL-6, which then mediates altered blood clotting and enhanced thrombus formation.
According to them, the study provides evidence to suggest that targeting IL-6 might decrease the risk of heart problems caused by exposure to particulate matter.