Neurotoxicants are in the air: convergence of human, animal, and in vitro studies on the effects of air pollution on the brain

Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:736385. doi: 10.1155/2014/736385. Epub 2014 Jan 12.

Abstract

In addition to increased morbidity and mortality caused by respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, air pollution may also negatively affect the brain and contribute to central nervous system diseases. Air pollution is a mixture comprised of several components, of which ultrafine particulate matter (UFPM; <100 nm) is of much concern, as these particles can enter the circulation and distribute to most organs, including the brain. A major constituent of ambient UFPM is represented by traffic-related air pollution, mostly ascribed to diesel exhaust (DE). Human epidemiological studies and controlled animal studies have shown that exposure to air pollution may lead to neurotoxicity. In addition to a variety of behavioral abnormalities, two prominent effects caused by air pollution are oxidative stress and neuroinflammation, which are seen in both humans and animals and are confirmed by in vitro studies. Among factors which can affect neurotoxic outcomes, age is considered the most relevant. Human and animal studies suggest that air pollution (and DE) may cause developmental neurotoxicity and may contribute to the etiology of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autistic spectrum disorders. In addition, air pollution exposure has been associated with increased expression of markers of neurodegenerative disease pathologies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants* / analysis
  • Air Pollutants* / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Biomedical Research
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Cell Line
  • Dogs
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neurotoxins* / analysis
  • Neurotoxins* / toxicity
  • Rats
  • Toxicity Tests

Substances

  • Air Pollutants
  • Neurotoxins