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Age and gender affect soot's toxic impact

From second to second, blood vessels must alternately constrict and dilate to regulate blood flow. That ability can diminish markedly in rodent vessels exposed to an oily constituent of diesel soot, researchers report.

The team took arteries from rats' thighs and exposed them to the soot chemical phenanthraquinone.

Vessels came from female rats that were 6, 14, and 24 months old—comparable to girls approaching puberty, women in their reproductive years, and women over 65 years of age. Half of each age group of animals had undergone ovary-removal surgery, lowering their production of sex hormones and simulating that of postmenopausal women. Vessels of male rats 6 and 24 months old were also tested.

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