Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2014 December; 69(12): 867-870.

Copyright © 2014 Hospital das Clínicas da FMUSP

Mucociliary clearance, airway inflammation and nasal symptoms in urban motorcyclists

Tereza C S Brant I, II , Carolina T Yoshida III , Tomas de S. Carvalho III , Marina L Nicola III , Jocimar A Martins II , Lays M Braga III , Regiani C de Oliveira I , Vilma Leyton IV , Carmen S de André V , Paulo H N Saldiva I , Bruce K Rubin VI , Naomi K Nakagawa I, III *

Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo, Department of Pathology, LIM 05, São Paulo/SP, Brazil

Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Physical Therapy Department, Belo Horizonte/MG, Brazil

Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo, Department of Physiotherapy, Communication Science and Disorders, Occupational Therapy, LIM 34, São Paulo/SP, Brazil

Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo, Department of Legal Medicine, LIM 40, São Paulo/SP, Brazil

Institute of Mathematics and Statistics, University of São Paulo, São Paulo/SP, Brazil

Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Richmond, Virginia/USA

*corresponding author

E-mail: Tel.: 55 11 3061-8529

received October 2, 2014; revised October 23, 2014; accepted November 11, 2014.



There is evidence that outdoor workers exposed to high levels of air pollution exhibit airway inflammation and increased airway symptoms. We hypothesized that these workers would experience increased airway symptoms and decreased nasal mucociliary clearance associated with their exposure to air pollution.


In total, 25 non-smoking commercial motorcyclists, aged 18-44 years, were included in this study. These drivers work 8-12 hours per day, 5 days per week, driving on urban streets. Nasal mucociliary clearance was measured by the saccharine transit test; airway acidification was measured by assessing the pH of exhaled breath condensate; and airway symptoms were measured by the Sino-nasal Outcome Test-20 questionnaire. To assess personal air pollution exposure, the subjects used a passive-diffusion nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentration-monitoring system during the 14 days before each assessment. The associations between NO2 and the airway outcomes were analyzed using the Mann-Whitney test and the Chi-Square test. NCT01976039.


Compared with clearance in healthy adult males, mucociliary clearance was decreased in 32% of the motorcyclists. Additionally, 64% of the motorcyclists had airway acidification and 92% experienced airway symptoms. The median personal NO2 exposure level was 75 mg/m3 for these subjects and a significant association was observed between NO2 and impaired mucociliary clearance (p = 0.036).


Non-smoking commercial motorcyclists exhibit increased airway symptoms and airway acidification as well as decreased nasal mucociliary clearance, all of which are significantly associated with the amount of exposure to air pollution.

Keywords: Mucociliary Transport, Airways, Air Pollution, Respiratory Symptoms

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