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Impact of Annual Exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons on Acute Exacerbation Frequency in Asthmatic Patients

Authors Lee SW, Huang YC, Lin CY, Huang HY, Liu CW, Hsieh MT, Lee CL, Chung WY, Chung KF, Wang CH, Kuo HP

Received 24 October 2020

Accepted for publication 23 December 2020

Published 29 January 2021 Volume 2021:14 Pages 81—90


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Amrita Dosanjh

Shih-Wei Lee,1,* Yu-Chen Huang,2,3,* Chun-Yu Lin,2,3 Hung-Yu Huang,2,3 Chi-Wei Liu,1 Ming-Tsuen Hsieh,4 Chon-Lin Lee,4– 7 Wen-Yu Chung,8 Kian Fan Chung,9 Chun-Hua Wang,2,3 Han-Pin Kuo10,11

1Department of Internal Medicine, Taoyuan General Hospital, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Taoyuan, Taiwan; 2Department of Thoracic Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan; 3College of Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial University, Taoyuan, Taiwan; 4Department of Marine Environment and Engineering, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; 5Aerosol Science and Research Center, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; 6Department of Public Health, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; 7Department of Applied Chemistry, Providence University, Taichung, Taiwan; 8Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering, National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; 9Experimental Studies, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London and Royal Brompton Hospital, London, UK; 10Pulmonary Medicine Research Center, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan; 11Department of Thoracic Medicine, Taipei Medical University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Chun-Hua Wang
Department of Thoracic Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 199 Tun-Hwa North Road, Taipei 10507, Taiwan
Tel +886 3 321 1200 ext 8467
Han-Pin Kuo
Department of Medicine, Taipei Medical University School of Medicine, 250 Wu-Xing Street, Taipei 11031, Taiwan

Purpose: Exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) associated with ambient air particulate matter (PM) poses significant health concerns. Increased acute exacerbation (AE) frequency in asthmatic patients has been associated with ambient PAHs, but which subgroup of patients are particularly susceptible to ambient PAHs is uncertain. We developed a new model to simulate grid-scale PM2.5-PAH levels in order to evaluate whether the severity of asthma as measured by the Global Initiative of Asthma (GINA) levels of treatment is related to cumulative exposure of ambient PAHs.
Methods: Patients with asthma residing in the northern Taiwan were reviewed retrospectively from 2014 to 2017. PM2.5 were sampled and analysed for PAHs twice a month over a 72-hour period, in addition to collecting the routinely monitored air pollutant data from an established air quality monitoring network. In combination with correlation analysis and principal component analysis, multivariate linear regression models were performed to simulate hourly grid-scale PM2.5-PAH concentrations (ng/m3). A geographic information system mapping approach with ordinary kriging interpolation method was used to calculate the annual exposure of PAHs (ng/m).
Results: Among the 387 patients with asthma aged 18 to 93 (median 62), 97 subjects were treated as GINA step 5 (24%). Asthmatics in GINA 5 subgroup with high annual PAHs exposure were likely to have a higher annual frequency of any AE (1 (0– 12), p< 0.0001). Annual PAHs exposure was correlated with the annual frequency of any exacerbation (r=0.11, p=0.02). This was more significant in the GINA 5 subgroup (r=0.29, p=0.005) and in the GINA 5 subgroup with severe acute exacerbations (r=0.51, p=0.002). Annual PAHs exposure, severe acute exacerbation and GINA steps were independent variables that predict annual frequency of any exacerbation.
Conclusion: Asthmatic patients in the GINA 5 subgroup with acute exacerbations were more susceptible to the effect of environmental PAHs on their exacerbation frequency. Reducing environmental levels of PAHs will have the greatest impact on the more severe asthma patients.

Keywords: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, asthma acute exacerbation, GINA, hourly grid-scale model

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