Accumulating evidence indicates that exposure to air pollution is associated with increased mortality from respiratory disease. Exposure to ambient pollutants, such as ozone, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and other agents has been associated with decrease in lung function and immunity, and with increased rates of hospitalization for lung disease, including pneumonia. Furthermore, sex differences in frequency and severity of pulmonary disease and infection have been reported, suggesting a role of sex hormones in mediating these differences. Pneumonia, which is commonly caused by bacterial infection and subsequent lung inflammation leading to hospitalization and death, occurs at different rates in men and women. In this context, male and female hormones can have direct effects on the immunity system by binding to receptors in immune cells, and these responses can be modulated by environmental exposures. This chapter summarizes clinical, animal, and epidemiological studies linking exposure to air pollution and pneumonia in both males and females. Understanding sex-specific mechanisms in pneumonia pathogenesis and environmental responses can help in the development of more effective therapeutics and treatment options to reduce negative health outcomes in men and women.
Part of the book: Contemporary Topics of Pneumonia