Led by Dr. Stephan Schwander (principal investigator), this translational research project aims to understand the role exposure to air pollution particulate matter (PM) has on human susceptibility to infection with M.tb, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). This question is of significant global public health relevance as large populations in TB endemic countries are exposed to high levels of ambient air pollution in large, often congested, urban dwellings that undergo rapid growth with vehicular traffic and growing industries.
The goal of the project is to assess the impact of ambient and indoor air pollution particulate matter (PM) exposure on human protective antimycobacterial immunity. Because the lungs are the primary portal of entry for inhaled aerosolized particulate matter (PM) and M.tb, the project will also assess the effects of exposure to urban fine PM (< 2.5 microns in size) on primary human lung (bronchoalveolar) and respiratory epithelial cells. The impact of short-term and long-term exposure to ambient and indoor air pollution and of seasonal variability and physicochemical characteristics of PM2.5 from Mexico City will be assessed on cellular toxicity, pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine production, mRNA expression and M.tb uptake and growth control.
Iztapalapa, a municipality with two million inhabitants within the megalopolis of Mexico City (26 million inhabitants) serves as the main study site. Iztapalapa’s population continues to be exposed to high levels of ambient and indoor air pollution as well as M.tb.
The multidisciplinary study involves project co-investigators in environmental sciences, toxicology, biostatistics, microbiology and immunology from:
The research project has major global environmental and global public health implications as both tuberculosis and air pollution cause large scale morbidity and mortality in disadvantaged and impoverished populations worldwide.