Air pollution and exposure to fine airborne particles with aerodynamic diameter <2.5 μm (PM2.5) negatively impacts human health. Airways constitute a primary route of exposure but PM2.5-contaminated food, drinks as well as mucociliary and hepatobiliary clearance all constitute potential entry points into the intestine. This study evaluated intestinal histopathological and inflammatory changes as well as enteric neuronal numbers after short- or long-term exposure to urban PM2.5. Using a nebulizer, male rats were exposed to a mist with a concentration of 5.3mg PM2.5/m3 for 8 h (short term) or 1.8 mg PM2.5/m3 for 3 h/day, 5 days/week for 8 weeks (long-term) with controls run in parallel. Samples were taken from three regions of the small intestine as well as the colon. Results showed that short-term exposure to PM2.5 induces mucosal lesions and reduces IL1β levels in the small intestine but not colon. No significant changes were observed after long-term exposure, suggesting the presence of intestinal adaptation to environmental stressors in the PM2.5. To our knowledge, this is the first study to systematically characterize regional effects along the intestine.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15249
JournalPhysiological Reports
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Apr

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Physiology
  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health

Free keywords

  • environmental
  • gastrointestinal
  • inflammation
  • physiology
  • toxicology
  • urban air pollution


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