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Perez, Laura; Wolf, Kathrin; Hennig, Frauke; Penell, Johanna; Basagana, Xavier; Foraster, Maria; Aguilera, Inmaculada; Agis, David; Beelen, Rob; Brunekreef, Bert; Cyrys, Josef; Fuks, Kateryna B.; Adam, Martin; Baldassarre, Damiano; Cirach, Marta; Elosua, Roberto; Dratva, Julia; Hampel, Regina; Koenig, Wolfgang; Marrugat, Jaume; de Faire, Ulf; Pershagen, Goran; Probst-Hensch, Nicole M.; de Nazelle, Audrey; Nieuwenhuijsen, Mark J.; Rathmann, Wolfgang; Rivera, Marcela; Seissler, Jochen; Schindler, Christian; Thiery, Joachim; Hoffmann, Barbara; Peters, Annette and Kuenzli, Nino (2015): Air Pollution and Atherosclerosis: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of Four European Cohort Studies in the ESCAPE Study. In: Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 123, No. 6: pp. 597-605 [PDF, 291kB]


BACKGROUND: In four European cohorts we investigated the cross-sectional association between long-term exposure to air pollution and intima-media thickness of the common carotid artery (CIMT) a preclinical marker of atherosclerosis. METHODS: Individually assigned levels of nitrogen dioxide nitrogen oxides particulate matter <= 2.5 mu m (PM2.5) absorbance of PM2.5 (PM2.5abs) PM10 PMcoarse and two indicators of residential proximity to highly trafficked roads were obtained under a standard exposure protocol (European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects-ESCAPE study) in the Stockholm area (Sweden) the Ausburg and Ruhr area (Germany) and the Girona area (Spain). We used linear regression and meta-analyses to examine the association between long-term exposure to air pollution and CIMT. RESULTS: The meta-analysis with 9, 183 individuals resulted in an estimated increase in CIMT (geometric mean) of 0.72% (95% CI: -0.65% 2.10%) per 5-mu g/m(3) increase in PM2.5 and 0.42% (95% CI: -0.46% 1.30%) per 10(-5)/m increase in PM(2.5)abs. Living in proximity to high traffic was also positively but not significantly associated with CIMT. Meta-analytic estimates for other pollutants were inconsistent. Results were similar across different adjustment sets and sensitivity analyses. In an extended meta-analysis for PM2.5 with three other previously published studies a 0.78% (95% CI: -0.18% 1.75%) increase in CIMT was estimated for a 5-mu g/m(3) contrast in PM2.5. CONCLUSIONS: Using a standardized exposure and analytical protocol in four European cohorts we found that cross-sectional associations between CIMT and the eight ESCAPE markers of long-term residential air pollution exposure did not reach statistical significance. The additional meta-analysis of CIMT and PM2.5 across all published studies also was positive but not significant.

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