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Exercise "stress" testing is a screening tool used to determine the amount of stress for which the heart can compensate before developing abnormal rhythm or ischemia, particularly in susceptible persons. Although this approach has been used to assess risk in humans exposed to air pollution, it has never been applied to rodent studies. We hypothesized that a single exposure to diesel exhaust (DE) would increase the risk of adverse cardiac events such as arrhythmia and myocardial ischemia in rats undergoing a dobutamine challenge test, which can be used to mimic exercise-like stress. Wistar-Kyoto normotensive (WKY) and spontaneously hypertensive (SH) rats implanted with radiotelemeters and a chronic intravenous catheter were whole-body exposed to 150 μg/m3 DE for 4 hr. Increasing doses of dobutamine, a β1-adrenergic agonist, were administered to conscious unrestrained rats 24 hr later to elicit the cardiac response observed during exercise while heart rate (HR) and electrocardiogram (ECG) were monitored. A single exposure to DE potentiated the HR response of WKY and SH rats during dobutamine challenge and prevented HR recovery at rest. During peak challenge, DE-exposed SH rats had lower overall HR variability when compared with controls, in addition to transient ST depression. All DE-exposed animals also had increased arrhythmias. These results are the first evidence that rats exhibit stress-induced cardiac dysrhythmia and ischemia sensitivity comparable to humans after a single exposure to a toxic air pollutant, particularly when in the presence of underlying cardiovascular disease. Thus, exposure to low concentrations of air pollution can impair the heart's ability to respond to stress and increase the risk of subsequent triggered dysfunction.


Mehdi S Hazari, Justin Callaway, Darrell W Winsett, Christina Lamb, Najwa Haykal-Coates, Q Todd Krantz, Charly King, Daniel L Costa, Aimen K Farraj. Dobutamine "stress" test and latent cardiac susceptibility to inhaled diesel exhaust in normal and hypertensive rats. Environmental health perspectives. 2012 Aug;120(8):1088-93

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PMID: 22543081

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