Neurogenic Inflammation and Particulate Matter (PM) Air Pollutants

From: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0161813X01000626

NeuroToxicology, Volume 22, Issue 6, December 2001, Pages 795–810

Neurogenic Inflammation and Particulate Matter (PM) Air Pollutants

Bellina Veronesi, Marga Oortgiesen

In their abstract, the authors provide a background for their review, “Exposure to a class of airborne pollutants known as particulate matter (PM) is an environmental health risk of global proportions. PM is thought to initiate and/or exacerbate respiratory disorders such as asthma and airway hyper-responsiveness and is epidemiologically associated with causing death in the elderly and those with pre-existing respiratory or cardiopulmonary disease.”

According to the authors, “This review describes a series of published studies which indicate that PM initiates airway inflammation through sensory neural pathways, specifically by activation of capsaicin-sensitive vanilloid (e.g. VR1) irritant receptors. These acid-sensitive receptors are located on the sensory C nerve fibers that innervate the airways as well as on various immune and non-immune airway target cells. The activation of these receptors results in the release of neuropeptides from the sensory terminals that innervate the airways. Their interactions with airway target cells result in signs of inflammation (e.g. bronchoconstriction, vasodilation, histamine release, mucous secretion, etc.).”

The authors state, “This review proposes a mechanism by which neurogenic [forming, originating in, or controlled by nervous tissue] elements initiate and sustain PM-mediated airway inflammation. Although neurogenic influences have been appreciated in normal airway homeostasis, they have not, until now, been associated with PM toxicity. The sensitivity of the sensory nervous system to irritants and its interactions with pulmonary target tissues should encourage neuroscientists to explore the relevance of neurogenic influences to toxic disorders involving other peripheral target systems.”

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