According to a study, inhaled hazardous particles travel directly from the lungs to the brain
A new study says that breathing dirty air can send dangerous particles from the lungs to the brain through the bloodstream. This could lead to brain diseases and damage to the nervous system.
Scientists have uncovered a possible direct conduit for certain inhaled tiny particles to go via blood circulation, with evidence that the particles linger in the brain longer than in other major metabolic organs once they get there.
Today, the journal PNAS shared the results of a study by an international team of experts from the University of Birmingham and Chinese universities.
The researchers found a lot of tiny particles in the CSF fluids of people with brain problems. This showed them a way that harmful particles could get into the brain.
Professor Iseult Lynch of the University of Birmingham, a co-author, said: “Our understanding of the detrimental consequences of airborne small particles on the central nervous system is lacking.” This study adds to our understanding of the relationship between inhaling particles and their subsequent movement about the body.
“The results suggest that up to eight times more small particles may reach the brain through the bloodstream from the lungs than directly through the nose. This is new evidence that shows how air pollution can hurt the brain.”
Particulate matter (PM, especially ambient tiny particles such as PM2.5 and PM0.1) is the most serious component of air pollution in terms of having negative health impacts. Most of the body’s defenses, like sentinel immune cells and biological barriers, can’t stop very small particles.
High levels of air pollution have been linked to neuroinflammation, Alzheimer’s-like alterations, and cognitive difficulties in older adults and even young people, according to new research.
The researchers discovered that inhaled particles can penetrate the air-blood barrier and enter the bloodstream, eventually reaching the brain and causing damage to the brain-blood barrier and surrounding tissues. Once inside the brain, the particles were difficult to remove, and they stayed longer than in other organs.
Their results add to the evidence that particulate pollution is bad for the central nervous system. However, the researchers say that more research is needed to figure out how inhaled fine particles get to the brain.