A healthy and well-functioning immune system is the key to a healthy body. Both inadequate, as well as exaggerated immune responses, could underlie diverse disease pathologies including serious infections, auto-immune conditions, and even malignancies. This is why understanding the effects of environmental pollution on the immune system is vital so that we can adopt appropriate measures to protect ourselves against the impact.
Here is a brief discussion about the effects of environmental pollution on the immune system and how we can abrogate the pathology to help restore healthy immunity and prevent diseases.
The Effects of Environmental Pollution on the Immune System
Pro-Inflammatory Immune Responses
The immune system consists of multiple forms of immune cells that act together to produce (or fail to produce) specific immune responses. Pollutants in the air can affect certain immune cell types including inflammatory neutrophils, macrophages, and dendritic cells that are known to orchestrate a strong adaptive immune response.
Air pollutants can also disrupt the activities of lymphocytes that can support immune responses when the body is exposed to infection-causing pathogens.
Research studies have suggested that air pollutants can also stimulate an acute and chronic pro-inflammatory immune response across multiple forms of immune cells. Air pollution may also interfere with the activities of the Th2 (T helper lymphocyte type 2) and Th17 (T helper lymphocyte type 17) thus affecting adaptive immune responses, as is observed in patients with allergies like asthma. It may also dysregulate the anti-viral immune response putting patients at a higher risk of viral infections.
The clinical effects of environmental pollution on the immune system also include exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Additionally, as inhaled air pollutants tend to get deposited primarily on the mucosal layer of the respiratory tract, they may also trigger inflammation thus contributing to the development of serious chronic lung diseases like pulmonary carcinoma. Improving your immunity and reducing your exposure to air pollution can control inflammation and decrease your risk of lung cancers.
Environmental pollution poses a serious challenge to the health of children and adults across the world. Air pollutants can alter the immune response and provoke immunotoxicity.
For example; xenobiotic receptors, like AHR (aryl hydrocarbon receptors), can sense and react to the subset of environmental pollutants by stimulating the expression of certain detoxification enzymes to protect our body. However, the long-term activation of AHR can result in immunotoxicity.
Similarly, KEAP1-NRF2 is another defense system of the body that can protect us against environmental pollutants. KEAP1 can detect environmental pollutants, leading to the stimulation of NRF2, which is a transcription factor. NRF2 can protect the body against immunotoxicity by activating the expression of genes that are involved in detoxification and anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities.
Avoiding exposure to the toxins in the air and intervening in the body’s own sensor-response systems can offer an effective strategy to protect ourselves from immunotoxicity induced by environmental pollutants.
Harmful chemicals in the air such as nitrogen oxide, VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), sulfur dioxide, dioxins, and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) can create a serious impact on the immune system.
Carbon monoxide can weaken the immune system and provoke poisoning, when breathed in a higher concentration. Heavy metals like lead can also cause a toxic effect on the immune system triggering the development of cancer.
These effects of environmental pollution on the immune system can be avoided by making conscious efforts to minimize the release of toxic gases into the air.
It may not always be possible for us to avoid exposure to environmental pollutants. The best way to tackle this problem is to create awareness about the effects of environmental pollution on the immune system and proposing sustainable solutions to address the emergence of this threat.
It may take several years or even decades for the air quality to improve. Until then, we can take good care of our immune system by using natural immunity-balancing supplements like BioPro-Plus. Regular use of BioPro-Plus could strengthen our immunity, minimize the adverse effects of environmental pollution on the immune system, and enable the body to fight toxins and chemicals in the air in a more efficient manner.
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