Article

The adverse effects of air pollution on the nervous system.

Department of Neuroscience, Health Science Institute, Dokuz Eylul University, Inciralti, 35340 Izmir, Turkey.
Journal of Toxicology 01/2012; 2012:782462. DOI: 10.1155/2012/782462
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Exposure to ambient air pollution is a serious and common public health concern associated with growing morbidity and mortality worldwide. In the last decades, the adverse effects of air pollution on the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems have been well established in a series of major epidemiological and observational studies. In the recent past, air pollution has also been associated with diseases of the central nervous system (CNS), including stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and neurodevelopmental disorders. It has been demonstrated that various components of air pollution, such as nanosized particles, can easily translocate to the CNS where they can activate innate immune responses. Furthermore, systemic inflammation arising from the pulmonary or cardiovascular system can affect CNS health. Despite intense studies on the health effects of ambient air pollution, the underlying molecular mechanisms of susceptibility and disease remain largely elusive. However, emerging evidence suggests that air pollution-induced neuroinflammation, oxidative stress, microglial activation, cerebrovascular dysfunction, and alterations in the blood-brain barrier contribute to CNS pathology. A better understanding of the mediators and mechanisms will enable the development of new strategies to protect individuals at risk and to reduce detrimental effects of air pollution on the nervous system and mental health.

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