UNT biologist researches link between pollution and cardiovascular health

Amie Lund, assistant professor of biology, has found that exposure to traffic-generated pollution has negative effects on cardiovascular health. She hopes her research will lead to the design of drugs to help treat or prevent stroke and cardiovascular problems. (Photo by Michael Clements)Amie Lund, assistant professor of biology, is researching the cardiovascular health effects of exposure to traffic-generated pollution. She found it is associated with higher levels of oxidized "bad" cholesterol in your body, which can contribute to the progression of cardiovascular disease.

"We know heart attacks and strokes typically start with fatty plaque buildup," says Lund, who is hopeful her research will lead to improved therapeutic options to help treat or prevent stroke and cardiovascular problems, especially in regions that experience high levels of air pollution. "Now we want to understand how exposure to air pollution is making that plaque grow bigger in our blood vessels, which can lead to the onset of a heart attack, or if the plaque ruptures, it can result in a stroke."

Lund is experimenting to see how different types of air pollutants can change cell signaling patterns in the cardiovascular system on a molecular level, to better understand how they may contribute to diseases.

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