Air Pollutant Exposure Linked to Increased Risk for Incident Lupus

Participants with high genetic risk, high air pollution exposure had highest risk for incident SLE versus those with low genetic risk, exposure
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

WEDNESDAY, July 10, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Air pollutant exposure is associated with an increased likelihood of developing incident systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), according to a study published online July 10 in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

Meiqi Xing, from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, and colleagues examined the associations between long-term exposure to air pollutants and incident SLE using data from 459,815 participants from the U.K. Biobank. For further assessing the interactions and joint effects of genetic risk and air pollutants, the polygenic risk score was used.

During a median follow-up of 11.77 years, 399 patients with SLE were identified. The researchers identified positive associations between air pollutant exposure and incident SLE, with adjusted hazard ratios of 1.18, 1.23, 1.27, and 1.13 for each interquartile range increase in particulate matter with a diameter ≤2.5 µm (PM2.5), PM10, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx), respectively. Compared with those with low genetic risk and low air pollution exposure, participants with high genetic risk and high air pollution exposure had the highest risk for incident SLE (adjusted hazard ratios, 4.16, 5.31, 5.61, and 4.80 for PM2.5, PM10, NO2, and NOx, respectively). A significant multiplicative interaction was seen between NO2 and polygenic risk score.

"Our study provides crucial insights into the air pollution contributing to autoimmune diseases," coauthor Yaohua Tian, Ph.D., also of the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, said in a statement. "The findings can inform the development of stricter air quality regulations to mitigate exposure to harmful pollutants, thereby reducing the risk of lupus."

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