Proximity to traffic, inflammation, and immune function among women in the Seattle, Washington, Area

Lori A. Williams, Cornelia M. Ulrich, Timothy Larson, Mark H. Wener, Brent Wood, Peter T. Campbell, John D. Potter, Anne McTierman, Anneclaire J. De Roos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Traffic-related air pollution has been associated with adverse health outcomes, and the immune system may be a biologic mediator of health effects. Objectives: We analyzed associations between living near major roads and immune status as measured by five immune assays. We hypothesized that living near a freeway, arterial, or truck route would be associated with increased inflammation and decreased immune function. Methods: We used a geographic information system (GIS) to determine residential proximity to major roads among 115 postmenopausal, overweight women in the greater Seattle, Washington (USA), area whose immunity was assessed at the baseline visit of an exercise intervention trial. We evaluated three inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, serum amyloid A, and interleukin-6) and two functional assays of cellular immunity [natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity and T-lymphocyte proliferation]. Results: Women living within 150 m of arterial roads had 21% lower NK cytotoxicity compared with women who lived farther from an arterial [mean cytotoxicity, 19.5%; 95% confidence interval (CI), 15.6-23.5%; vs. mean cytotoxicity, 24.8%; 95% CI, 22.0-27.5%], after adjustment for both individual-level and census tract-level demographic characteristics. This association was limited to women who reported exercising near traffic. Fewer women lived near freeways and truck routes. Markers of inflammation and lymphocyte proliferation did not consistently differ according to proximity to major roads. Conclusions: If the observed association between residential proximity to traffic and decreased NK cytotoxicity is confirmed in other populations, our results may have implications for local land use policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-378
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Air pollution
  • C-reactive protein
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Immune function
  • Inflammation
  • Lymphocyte proliferation
  • Natural killer cell
  • Traffic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Proximity to traffic, inflammation, and immune function among women in the Seattle, Washington, Area'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this