Neurodegenerative and neurological disorders by small inhaled particles

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The world's population is steadily ageing and as a result, health conditions related to ageing, such as dementia, have become a major public health concern. In 2001, it was estimated that there were almost 5 million Europeans suffering from Alzheimer's disease (AD) and this figure has been projected to almost double by 2040. About 40% of people over 85 suffer from AD, and another 10% from Parkinson's disease (PD). The majority of AD and PD cases are of sporadic origin and environmental factors play an important role in the aetiology. Epidemiological research identified airborne particulate matter (PM) as one of the environmental factors potentially involved in AD and PD pathogenesis. Also, cumulating evidence demonstrates that the smallest sizes of the inhalable fraction of ambient particulate matter, also referred to as ultrafine particulate matter or nano-sized particles, are capable of inducing effects beyond the respiratory system. Translocation of very small particles via the olfactory epithelium in the nose or via uptake into the circulation has been demonstrated through experimental rodent studies with engineered nanoparticles. Outdoor air pollution has been linked to several health effects including oxidative stress and neuroinflammation that may ultimately result in neurodegeneration and cognitive impairment. This review aims to evaluate the relationship between exposure to inhaled ambient particles and neurodegeneration.

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