July 6, 2011
Science Daily/Ohio State University
Long-term exposure to air pollution can lead to physical changes in the brain, as well as learning and memory problems and even depression, new research in mice suggests. While other studies have shown the damaging effects of polluted air on the heart and lungs, this is one of the first long-term studies to show the negative impact on the brain.
While other studies have shown the damaging effects of polluted air on the heart and lungs, this is one of the first long-term studies to show the negative impact on the brain, said Laura Fonken, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in neuroscience at Ohio State University.
"The results suggest prolonged exposure to polluted air can have visible, negative effects on the brain, which can lead to a variety of health problems," Fonken said. "This could have important and troubling implications for people who live and work in polluted urban areas around the world."
In other studies, several of the co-authors of this study from the Davis research center found that chronic exposure to polluted air leads to widespread inflammation in the body, which is linked to a variety of health problems in humans, including depression. This new study found evidence that this low-grade inflammation is evident in the hippocampus.