Quadruple abnormal protein aggregates in brainstem pathology and exogenous metal-rich magnetic nanoparticles (and engineered Ti-rich nanorods). The substantia nigrae is a very early target in young urbanites and the gastrointestinal tract a key brainstem portal

Environ Res. 2020 Dec:191:110139. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.110139. Epub 2020 Sep 2.


Fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) exposures are linked with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases (AD,PD). AD and PD neuropathological hallmarks are documented in children and young adults exposed lifelong to Metropolitan Mexico City air pollution; together with high frontal metal concentrations (especially iron)-rich nanoparticles (NP), matching air pollution combustion- and friction-derived particles. Here, we identify aberrant hyperphosphorylated tau, ɑ synuclein and TDP-43 in the brainstem of 186 Mexico City 27.29 ± 11.8y old residents. Critically, substantia nigrae (SN) pathology seen in mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum and neuromelanin (NM) is co-associated with the abundant presence of exogenous, Fe-, Al- and Ti-rich NPs.The SN exhibits early and progressive neurovascular unit damage and mitochondria and NM are associated with metal-rich NPs including exogenous engineered Ti-rich nanorods, also identified in neuroenteric neurons. Such reactive, cytotoxic and magnetic NPs may act as catalysts for reactive oxygen species formation, altered cell signaling, and protein misfolding, aggregation and fibril formation. Hence, pervasive, airborne and environmental, metal-rich and magnetic nanoparticles may be a common denominator for quadruple misfolded protein neurodegenerative pathologies affecting urbanites from earliest childhood. The substantia nigrae is a very early target and the gastrointestinal tract (and the neuroenteric system) key brainstem portals. The ultimate neural damage and neuropathology (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and TDP-43 pathology included) could depend on NP characteristics and the differential access and targets achieved via their portals of entry. Thus where you live, what air pollutants you are exposed to, what you are inhaling and swallowing from the air you breathe,what you eat, how you travel, and your occupational longlife history are key. Control of NP sources becomes critical.

Keywords: Alpha-synucleinopathies; Aluminum; Alzheimer; Brainstem; Cerebellum; Children; Energy-dispersive X ray analysis EDX; High resolution scanning TEM; Hyperphosphorylated tau pτ; Iron; Magnetite; Mexico City; Nanoparticles; Neuroenteric system; Neuromelanin; PM(2.5,) portal of entry; Parkinson disease; Protein misfolding; Substantia nigrae; TDP-43 proteinopathies; tauopathies, titanium,Ti-rich nanorods; α-Syn.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease*
  • Brain Stem
  • Child
  • Cities
  • Gastrointestinal Tract
  • Humans
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles*
  • Mexico
  • Nanotubes*
  • Protein Aggregates
  • Titanium / toxicity
  • Young Adult
  • alpha-Synuclein


  • Magnetite Nanoparticles
  • Protein Aggregates
  • alpha-Synuclein
  • Titanium