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Does Pollution Increase Neurological Diseases Risk?

Does pollution increase neurological diseases risk? A new study investigated whether air pollution affects the brain. The researchers looked at associations between pollution, sense of smell, and neurological conditions.

Investigators from Penn State University, PA have published their findings this week in the journal eLife. The team focused on the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a colorless body fluid found in the brain and spinal cord, which surrounds the central nervous system (CNS).

According to the researchers, CSF clearance could play a key part in the buildup of neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

For the findings, the investigators used a mouse model with zinc sulfate. They destroyed the olfactory sensory nerves in mice. They explained that these nerves are found in CNS and directly contact with the external environment.

“Animals and people are constantly making CSF, so if it doesn’t go out, pressure will go up, but we found that the pressure did not increase after the flow from the nose stopped,” said Prof. Patrick Drew, one of the authors of the study.

The results found that after destroying the olfactory sensory nerves, the mice’s ability to smell reduced. The researchers concluded that pollution damages the olfactory sensory neurons. CSF is important in the process of clearing metabolic trash from the CNS. Now researchers are planning to conduct further research.

“Reduced CSF turnover may be a contributing factor to the buildup of toxic metabolites and proteins that cause neurodegenerative disorders,” the authors said.

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