AIR POLLUTION AFFECTS BRAIN AND MAY CONTRIBUTE TO ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
For the first time, research finds pollutant nanoparticles in brain tissue
Poor air quality has been associated with a higher incidence of cardiovascular and respiratory problems., but one
New study indicates that it may also be related to the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom first identified metal nanoparticles from air pollution in the brain, demonstrating that they can reach the organ directly, where they would then trigger harmful reactions to human health.
In the study, researchers led by Barbara Maher,
Lancaster University Environment Center professor examined brain frontal lobe samples from 37 people aged 3 to 92 years, of whom 29 were victims of traffic accidents in Mexico City,
one of the most polluted in the world, and the remaining eight of deceased elderly residents of Manchester , one of Britain’s worst air quality cities diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other neurological problems. Using various equipment, they found the presence of magnetite (a type of oxidized iron mineral with magnetic properties) in the tissues.
Until then, there would be nothing strange, since magnetite is naturally present in the organ and other parts of the body as a way to store the iron used in various biological processes. But analyzes with powerful microscopes showed that, unlike the magnetite produced by our organism, which has an angular shape, the vast majority of the particles found were spherical, with diameters of up to 150 nanometers. In addition, these spherical particles were often accompanied by nanoparticles containing other metals such as platinum, nickel and cobalt.
The particles we found are similar to magnetite nanospheres that are abundant in air pollution in urban environments, especially near busy streets, and which are formed by combustion or friction heating in vehicle engines and brakes, ”says Barbara Maher is the lead author of an article published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
According to the researchers, particles less than 200 nanometers in diameter (to give you an idea, a hair between 80,000 and 100,000 nanometers thick) are small enough to enter the brain directly through the bulb. olfactory and then the olfactory nerve as you breathe in polluted air without having to pass through your lungs and bloodstream .
“ Our results indicate that magnetite nanoparticles in the atmosphere can enter the human brain, where they may become a risk to human health, including diseases like Alzheimer ” says Barbara Maher
According to the researchers responsible for the study, among the possible detrimental effects of the presence of these magnetite particles in the brain is the formation of so-called free radicals, extremely reactive compounds whose occurrence in the organ has already been associated with the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, in particular the formation of plaques of the defective beta-amyloid protein characteristic of the disease. In fact, the researcher states that “(…) magnetite in the brain is not something you want to have, as it is particularly toxic there (…)”, explaining that the substance in cause may give rise to reactive oxygen species called free radicals; “Oxidative cell damage is an indication of characteristics associated with Alzheimer’s disease, which is why the presence of magnetite is potentially significant and harmful because it is bioreactive.”
Incidentally others recent study directly associated magnetite with brain damage, namely Alzheimer’s disease.
According to “Alzheimers.net” 44 million people suffer from some form of dementia, by far the most common of which. It is Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists agree that air pollution is a major health risk factor in general, and should therefore be addressed. According to a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in May this year, 80% of the planet’s urban population is exposed to pollutants in excess of the recommended limits.
It is important to note that air pollution is a global health problem that kills more people than malaria and AIDS combined and is linked to numerous lung and heart disease.