Phytochemical-based metabolic immunomodulation to prevent/attenuate particulate matter-mediated atherosclerosis


Exposure to airborne fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is a risk factor for atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases. ATHEROFIT aims at preventing and/or attenuating air pollution-mediated atherosclerosis via phytochemical-based metabolic immunomodulation. Samples of PM2.5 will be collected at Estarreja air quality station using reference gravimetric samplers. This will provide validated measurements of atmospheric PM2.5 levels and of their temporal/seasonal variations. Then, the atherogenic potential of PM2.5 will be assessed upon their in vitro incubation with primary human innate immune cells, namely blood monocytes/macrophages, which are key players in vessel wall inflammation and atherosclerosis. This will improve current understanding of PM2.5 effects on the cells inflammatory, metabolic and functional states and will reveal novel anti-atherogenic metabolic targets. Finally, selected phytochemicals acting on those targets will be screened for their ability to prevent/revert PM2.5-induced atherogenic effects. This is expected to reinforce the link between cardiovascular health and plant-derived natural compounds, typically abundant in fruits, vegetables and legumes, as well as to support the future development of atheroprotective phytochemicals as nutraceutical supplements. Overall, ATHEROFIT is expected to generate knowledge and to implement actions that, on the one hand, will increase public awareness on the health risks of air pollution and, on the other hand, will contribute for improving the cardiovascular health and well-being of susceptible populations living in highly industrialized areas like Estarreja. A multidisciplinary team of CHBV cardiologists and UA academic researchers with expertise in various areas such as environmental sciences, immunology and metabolism, has been assembled to conduct this work.


Universidade de Aveiro (UA)


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