Oxygenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from ambient particulate matter induce electrophysiological instability in cardiomyocytes

Sujin Ju, Leejin Lim, Leejin Lim, Han Yi Jiao, Seok Choi, Jae Yeoul Jun, Young Jae Ki, Dong Hyun Choi, Ji Yi Lee, Heesang Song, Heesang Song

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12 Scopus citations


Background: Epidemiologic studies have suggested that elevated concentrations of particulate matter (PM) are strongly associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, including arrhythmia. However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which PM exposure causes arrhythmia and the component that is mainly responsible for this adverse effect remains to be established. In this study, the arrhythmogenicity of mobilized organic matter from two different types of PM collected during summer (SPM) and winter (WPM) seasons in the Seoul metropolitan area was evaluated. In addition, differential effects between polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and oxygenated PAHs (oxy-PAHs) on the induction of electrophysiological instability were examined. Results: We extracted the bioavailable organic contents of ambient PM, measuring 10 μm or less in diameter, collected from the Seoul metropolitan area using a high-volume air sampler. Significant alterations in all factors tested for association with electrophysiological instability, such as intracellular Ca2+ levels, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, and mRNA levels of the Ca2+-regulating proteins, sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ATPase (SERCA2a), Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMK II), and ryanodine receptor 2 (RyR2) were observed in cardiomyocytes treated with PM. Moreover, the alterations were higher in WPM-treated cardiomyocytes than in SPM-treated cardiomyocytes. Three-fold more oxy-PAH concentrations were observed in WPM than SPM. As expected, electrophysiological instability was induced higher in oxy-PAHs (9,10-anthraquinone, AQ or 7,12-benz(a) anthraquinone, BAQ)-treated cardiomyocytes than in PAHs (anthracene, ANT or benz(a) anthracene, BaA)-treated cardiomyocytes; oxy-PAHs infusion of cells mediated by aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) was faster than PAHs infusion. In addition, ROS formation and expression of calcium-related genes were markedly more altered in cells treated with oxy-PAHs compared to those treated with PAHs. Conclusions: The concentrations of oxy-PAHs in PM were found to be higher in winter than in summer, which might lead to greater electrophysiological instability through the ROS generation and disruption of calcium regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25
JournalParticle and Fibre Toxicology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 11 Jun 2020

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© 2020 The Author(s).


  • Ambient particulate matter
  • Cardiomyocytes
  • Electrophysiological instability
  • Oxygenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Reactive oxygen species


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