We investigated associations between ambient air pollution and microvessel function measured by peripheral arterial tonometry between 2003 and 2008 in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring and Third Generation Cohorts. We measured particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter =2.5 μm (PM2.5), black carbon, sulfates, particle number, nitrogen oxides, and ozone by using fixed monitors, and we determined moving averages for 1-7 days preceding vascular testing. We examined associations between these exposures and hyperemic response to ischemia and baseline pulse amplitude, a measure of arterial tone (n = 2,369). Higher short-term exposure to air pollutants, including PM2.5, black carbon, and particle number was associated with higher baseline pulse amplitude. For example, higher 3-day average PM2.5 exposure was associated with 6.3% higher baseline pulse amplitude (95% confidence interval: 2.0, 10.9). However, therewere no consistent associations between the air pollution exposures assessed and hyperemic response. Our findings in a community-based sample exposed to relatively low pollution levels suggest that short-term exposure to ambient particulate pollution is not associated with vasodilator response, but that particulate air pollution is associated with baseline pulse amplitude, suggesting potentially adverse alterations in baseline vascular tone or compliance.
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