Mice exposed to polluted air had fewer spines in parts of the hippocampus, shorter dendrites and overall reduced cell complexity.
"Previous research has shown that these types of changes are linked to decreased learning and memory abilities," said Nelson.
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.
In mice that breathed the polluted air, chemical messengers that cause inflammation called pro-inflammatory cytokines were more active in the hippocampus than they were in mice who breathed the filtered air.
"The hippocampus is particularly sensitive to damage caused by inflammation," Fonken said.
"We suspect that the systemic inflammation caused by breathing polluted air is being communicated to the central nervous system."
|Contact: Laura Fonken|
Ohio State University