News Release

Air pollution and organ development

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

offspring of the clean air versus polluted groups at different increments of postnatal days

image: Relative changes in body weights (BW), relative organ weights, and plasma metabolites including nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA) in offspring of the clean air versus polluted groups at different increments of postnatal days (PND); small intestine (SI), lungs (LG), kidney (KY), thymus (TS), brain (BN), heart (HT), spleen (SN), intestine (IE). view more 

Credit: Image courtesy of Yixin Li.

A study finds adverse effects of prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter in rats, including pregnancy complications and metabolic effects. Air pollution is a worldwide public health concern. Previous studies of exposure of pregnant rats to fine particulate matter found impairments to metabolic and immune systems of offspring, but the effects of air pollution on organ formation in utero remain unclear. Guoyao Wu, Mario J. Molina, Renyi Zhang, and colleagues exposed pregnant rats to high levels of ultrafine ammonium sulfate aerosols and tracked the development of the pups. During pregnancy, air pollution decreased fetal survival rates and shortened gestation and resulted in smaller body weight, brains, hearts, intestines, and other organs at birth, compared with rats born without maternal air pollution exposure. Some organs, including the spleen, thymus, and kidneys, were enlarged in pollution-exposed rats, and the exposed rats exhibited disturbed lipid and glucose metabolism and decreased aorta relaxation during adulthood. According to the authors, the findings suggest the need for strategies to reduce prenatal particulate matter exposure.


Article #19-02925: "Adverse organogenesis and predisposed long-term metabolic syndrome from prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter," by Guoyao Wu et al.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mario J. Molina, University of California, San Diego, CA; tel: 858-534-1696; e-mail: <>

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.