Breathing contaminated air transports toxic particles through the bloodstream from the lungs to the brain, potentially contributing to brain disease and neurological damage. An international team of researchers from the University of Birmingham in the UK and a Chinese research institute found a direct route to use for various microscopic particles inhaled through the blood circulation, and showed that once the particles enter the brain, they stay longer in the brain than other metabolic organs.
The new study found a variety of microscopic particles in cerebrospinal fluid taken from patients with brain disease and uncovered a process that could lead to the development of toxic particulate matter in the brain. “There was a gap in our knowledge about the harmful effects of airborne particles on the central nervous system,” said co-author Isult Lynch, a professor at the University of Birmingham. It sheds new light on the relationship,” he said.
“Fine particles can reach the brain directly through the bloodstream from the lungs up to eight times that of the nose,” he said. This is new evidence for a link between air pollution and its harmful effects on the brain.”
Air pollution is a mixture of many toxic components, and the most worrisome in terms of adverse health effects are fine dust and ultrafine dust. In particular, ultrafine particles can escape the body’s protective systems, such as sentinel immune cells and biological barriers.
Recently, a strong association has been found between high levels of air pollution and marked neuroinflammation, changes such as Alzheimer’s disease, and cognitive problems in the elderly and even children.
A new study finds that inhaled particles can cross the air-blood barrier and enter the bloodstream. This can eventually lead to damage to the brain-blood barrier and surrounding tissues. Once in, the particles are difficult to remove and stay in the brain longer than other organs. The findings of this study can be viewed as new evidence demonstrating the risk of contaminated particles to the central nervous system.
The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The original title is ‘Passage of exogeneous fine particles from the lung into the brain in humans and animals’.
Reporter Lee Bo-hyun email@example.com