Friday, March 03, 2017

New study reveals air pollution can alter effectiveness of antibiotics

Public Release: 2-Mar-2017
New study reveals air pollution can alter effectiveness of antibiotics
Interdisciplinary research at the University of Leicester has explored the impact of black carbon on bacteria in the respiratory tract
University of Leicester

  • Air pollution can change the way bacteria behave and can change their potential to cause disease
  • Interdisciplinary research discovers new mechanism of how air pollution is detrimental to our health and well-being
  • Developing megacities with extreme levels of air pollution are major risk factors for human health in many parts of the world


Researchers from the University of Leicester have for the first time discovered that bacteria that cause respiratory infections are directly affected by air pollution - increasing the potential for infection and changing the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment.

The interdisciplinary study, which has been published in the journal Environmental Microbiology, has important implications for the treatment of infectious diseases, which are known to be increased in areas with high levels of air pollution.

The study looked into how air pollution affects the bacteria living in our bodies, specifically the respiratory tract - the nose, throat and lungs.

A major component of air pollution is black carbon, which is produced through the burning of fossil fuels such as diesel, biofuels, and biomass.

The research shows that this pollutant changes the way in which bacteria grow and form communities, which could affect how they survive on the lining of our respiratory tracts and how well they are able to hide from, and combat, our immune systems.


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