How Air Pollution Exposure May Lead To Autism

How Air Pollution Exposure May Lead To Autism

Researchers have previously linked air pollution exposure—particularly traffic-related air pollution—to a higher risk of autism, but new research may have an answer for how that relationship works.

In an earlier study, researchers discovered that mice exposed to very unhealthy levels of diesel exhaust, or particulate matter, during pregnancy and early in development displayed behavioral alterations typical of autism spectrum disorder, including an increase in repetitive behavior, disrupted communication, and deficits in social interactions.

Researchers at the University of Washington say they observed similar hazardous air quality in Seattle during the summer months as wildfires raged through the region.

For the new study, researchers conducted experiments with mice and discovered that developmental exposure to diesel exhaust could cause subtle changes in the structure of the cerebral cortex (the outer layer of neural tissue of the cerebrum of the brain), as seen in the brains of autistic patients.

Researchers also propose a series of biochemical and molecular changes that may underlie such cortical alterations.

“These studies provide an animal model that will allow further investigations on the biological plausibility for an association between air pollution and autism spectrum disorder,” says Lucio Costa, professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the School of Public Health and senior author of the paper, which appears in Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

“From a public health point of view, it adds to the concerns of air pollution as a possible etiological factor for developmental and neurodegenerative disorders.”


 Get The Latest From InnerSelf


The proposed mechanism begins with increased neuroinflammation and leads to decreased expression of the protein reelin—which activates a signaling pathway required for proper positioning of neurons in the brain—both events common with autism. The mechanism also includes activation of the JAK2/STAT3 pathway, which plays a role in fetal brain development.

The researchers say they need to do future studies to better understand how gene-environment interaction affects autism spectrum disorder and to improve protection for vulnerable populations.

About the Authors

Yu-Chi (Rachel) Chang, an alumna of the environmental and occupational health sciences department, conducted the study as part of her doctoral dissertation in toxicology. Additional coauthors are from the University of Washington and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

Source: University of Washington

Related Books

{amazonWS:searchindex=Books;keywords=air pollution dangers;maxresults=3}

enafarzh-CNzh-TWnltlfifrdehiiditjakomsnofaptruessvtrvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

FROM THE EDITORS

The Day Of Reckoning Has Come For The GOP
by Robert Jennings, InnerSelf.com
The Republican party is no longer a pro-America political party. It is an illegitimate pseudo-political party full of radicals and reactionaries whose stated goal is to disrupt, destabilize, and…
Why Donald Trump Could Be History's Biggest Loser
by Robert Jennings, InnerSelf.com
Updated July 2, 20020 - This whole coronavirus pandemic is costing a fortune, maybe 2 or 3 or 4 fortunes, all of unknown size. Oh yeah, and, hundreds of thousands, maybe a million, of people will die…
Blue-Eyes vs Brown Eyes: How Racism is Taught
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
In this 1992 Oprah Show episode, award-winning anti-racism activist and educator Jane Elliott taught the audience a tough lesson about racism by demonstrating just how easy it is to learn prejudice.
A Change Is Gonna Come...
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
(May 30, 2020) As I watch the news on the events in Philadephia and other cities in the country, my heart aches for what is transpiring. I know that this is part of the greater change that is taking…
A Song Can Uplift the Heart and Soul
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
I have several ways that I use to clear the darkness from my mind when I find it has crept in. One is gardening, or spending time in nature. The other is silence. Another way is reading. And one that…