Road traffic pollution doubles risk of rejection after lung transplant

March 23, 2011

Lung transplant patients have double the risk of organ rejection and death within five years of the procedure if they live near a main road, indicates research published online in Thorax.

The Belgian researchers tracked the health of 281 patients who had undergone a lung transplant or retransplant at the same hospital between 1997 and 2008 until 2009.

They took into account how far these patients lived from a main road and therefore a source of airborne road traffic pollution to see if this had any impact on their survival rates, as pollutants are known to trigger .

Around half of all patients who undergo a lung transplant develop a serious inflammatory condition called bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome within five years of having the procedure, say the authors.

The syndrome, which is caused by an overactive immune system, is the clinical equivalent of and is considerably more common in lung transplant recipients than it is in other solid organ transplant patients - possibly because of the lung's direct contact with the environment, they add.

During the monitoring period, 117 patients (41%) developed the syndrome, one in five of whom (61) died.

Gender, age, or type of transplantation (single or double) had no bearing on the risk of death, the findings showed. But a clear pattern emerged for proximity to a main road.

Those who lived within a 171 metre radius of a main road were twice as likely to develop the syndrome and more than twice as likely to die as their peers who lived further away from this source of pollution.

Furthermore, the calculations showed that for every 10-fold increase in distance from a main road, patients were 43% less likely to develop the syndrome and 28% less likely to die.

Lung lavages (washing out of the lungs) and blood samples taken from 207 lung transplant recipients also showed that levels of inflammatory markers were associated with distance from a main road: the greater the distance from a main road, the lower they were.

The findings prompt the authors to conclude that one in four cases of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome and almost 30% (28%) of deaths in recipients across the country could be attributed to living near a major road.

"These population attributable fractions are significant not only in terms of patient suffering but also in terms of healthcare costs," say the authors. "Traffic related air appears to constitute a serious risk ... If confirmed by other studies, [it] has substantial clinical and public health implications."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Female researchers pay more attention to sex and gender in medicine

November 7, 2017
When women participate in a medical research paper, that research is more likely to take into account the differences between the way men and women react to diseases and treatments, according to a new study by Stanford researchers.

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.