Benefits of improved air quality on ageing lungs: impacts of genetics and obesity

Anke Hüls, Dorothee Sugiri, Michael J. Abramson, Barbara Hoffmann, Holger Schwender, Katja Ickstadt, Ursula Krämer, Tamara Schikowski

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INTRODUCTION: The beneficial effect of improving air quality on lung function in the elderly remains unclear. We examined associations between decline in air pollutants and lung function, and effect modifications by genetics and body mass index (BMI), in elderly German women. METHODS: Data were analysed from the prospective SALIA (Study on the influence of Air pollution on Lung function, Inflammation and Aging) study (n=601). Spirometry was conducted at baseline (1985-1994; age 55 years), in 2007-2010 and in 2012-2013. Air pollution concentrations at home addresses were determined for each time-point using land-use regression models. Global Lung Initiative 2012 z-scores were calculated. Weighted genetic risk scores (GRSs) were determined from lung function-related risk alleles and used to investigate interactions with improved air quality. Multiple linear mixed models were fitted. RESULTS: Air pollution levels decreased substantially during the study period. Reduction of air pollution was associated with an increase in z-scores for forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) and the FEV1/forced vital capacity ratio. For a decrease of 10 µg·m-3 in nitrogen dioxide (NO2), the z-score for FEV1 increased by 0.14 (95% CI 0.01-0.26). However, with an increasing number of lung function-related risk alleles, the benefit from improved air quality decreased (GRS×NO2 interaction: p=0.029). Interactions with BMI were not significant. CONCLUSIONS: Reduction of air pollution is associated with a relative improvement of lung function in elderly women, but also depends on their genetic make-up.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1801780
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

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