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BACKGROUND: Exposure to air pollution is associated with increased cardiorespiratory morbidity and mortality. It is unclear whether these effects are mediated through combustion-derived particulate matter or gaseous components, such as nitrogen dioxide. OBJECTIVES: To investigate the effect of nitrogen dioxide exposure on vascular vasomotor and six fibrinolytic functions. METHODS: Ten healthy male volunteers were exposed to nitrogen dioxide at 4 ppm or filtered air for 1 h during intermittent exercise in a randomized double-blind crossover study. Bilateral forearm blood flow and fibrinolytic markers were measured before and during unilateral intrabrachial infusion of bradykinin (100-1000 pmol/min), acetylcholine (5-20 microg/min), sodium nitroprusside (2-8 microg/min), and verapamil (10-100 microg/min) 4 h after the exposure. Lung function was determined before and after the exposure, and exhaled nitric oxide at baseline and 1 and 4 h after the exposure. RESULTS: There were no differences in resting forearm blood flow after either exposure. There was a dose-dependent increase in forearm blood flow with all vasodilators but this was similar after either exposure for all vasodilators (p > .05 for all). Bradykinin caused a dose-dependent increase in plasma tissue-plasminogen activator, but again there was no difference between the exposures. There were no changes in lung function or exhaled nitric oxide following either exposure. CONCLUSION: Inhalation of nitrogen dioxide does not impair vascular vasomotor or fibrinolytic function. Nitrogen dioxide does not appear to be a major arbiter of the adverse cardiovascular effects of air pollution.

Original publication




Journal article


Inhal toxicol

Publication Date





192 - 198


Adult, Air Pollutants, Occupational, Blood Cell Count, Cross-Over Studies, Double-Blind Method, Endothelium, Vascular, Exercise, Fibrinolysis, Hemodynamics, Humans, Inhalation Exposure, Lung, Male, Nitrogen Dioxide, Oxidants, Photochemical, Plasminogen Activators, Respiratory Function Tests, Spirometry, Thrombosis, Vascular Diseases, Young Adult