Maternal exposure to ultrafine particles enhances influenza infection during pregnancy. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Interactions between air pollution and infectious agents are increasingly recognized and critical to identify, especially to protect vulnerable populations. Pregnancy represents a vulnerable period for influenza infection and air pollution exposure, yet interactions during pregnancy remain unclear. Maternal exposure to ultrafine particles (UFPs, [Formula: see text] 100nm diameter), a class of particulate matter ubiquitous in urban environments, elicits unique pulmonary immune responses. We hypothesized that UFP exposure during pregnancy would lead to aberrant immune responses to influenza enhancing infection severity. RESULTS: Building from our well-characterized C57Bl/6N mouse model employing daily gestational UFP exposure from gestational day (GD) 0.5-13.5, we carried out a pilot study wherein pregnant dams were subsequently infected with Influenza A/Puerto Rico/8/1934 (PR8) on GD14.5. Findings indicate that PR8 infection caused decreased weight gain in filtered air (FA) and UFP-exposed groups. Co-exposure to UFPs and viral infection led to pronounced elevation in PR8 viral titer and reduced pulmonary inflammation, signifying potential suppression of innate and adaptive immune defenses. Pulmonary expression of the pro-viral factor sphingosine kinase 1 (Sphk1) and pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1 (IL-1 [Formula: see text]) was significantly increased in pregnant mice exposed to UFPs and infected with PR8; expression correlated with higher viral titer. CONCLUSIONS: Results from our model provide initial insight into how maternal UFP exposure during pregnancy enhances respiratory viral infection risk. This model is an important first step in establishing future regulatory and clinical strategies for protecting pregnant women exposed to UFPs.

published proceedings

  • Part Fibre Toxicol

altmetric score

  • 221.03

author list (cited authors)

  • Drury, N. L., Mustapha, T., Shore, R. A., Zhao, J., Wright, G. A., Hoffmann, A. R., ... Johnson, N. M.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Drury, Nicholas L||Mustapha, Toriq||Shore, Ross A||Zhao, Jiayun||Wright, Gus A||Hoffmann, Aline Rodrigues||Talcott, Susanne U||Regan, Annette||Tighe, Robert M||Zhang, Renyi||Johnson, Natalie M

publication date

  • April 2023