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Every breath you take: Impacts of environmental dust exposure on intestinal barrier function-from the gut-lung axis to COVID-19.


As countries continue to industrialize, major cities experience diminished air quality, whereas rural populations also experience poor air quality from sources such as agricultural operations. These exposures to environmental pollution from both rural and populated/industrialized sources have adverse effects on human health. Although respiratory diseases (e.g., asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) are the most commonly reported following long-term exposure to particulate matter and hazardous chemicals, gastrointestinal complications have also been associated with the increased risk of lung disease from inhalation of polluted air. The interconnectedness of these organ systems has offered valuable insights into the roles of the immune system and the micro/mycobiota as mediators of communication between the lung and the gut during disease states. A topical example of this relationship is provided by reports of multiple gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), whereas the rapid transmission and increased risk of COVID-19 has been linked to poor air quality and high levels of particulate matter. In this review, we focus on the mechanistic effects of environmental pollution on disease progression with special emphasis on the gut-lung axis.

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