Exposure to diesel exhaust may render friendly, cholesterol-fighting molecules incapable of performing their important job. A new study suggests that the traffic air pollutant may prevent good cholesterol from battling the bad, artery-clogging cholesterol that promotes heart attack and stroke.
The study’s team included environmental health scientists led by Michael E. Rosenfeld at the UW School of Public Health and heart disease specialist Jesus Araujo and his colleagues in the Division of Cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Their paper, published in the June issue of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, is the first to report that exposure to traffic sources of air pollution — diesel exhaust from combustion engines — can alter the protective nature of normal high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, and set in motion biological mechanisms that lead to cardiovascular disease.
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