The research sheds light on how exposure to particulate matter impacts the function of the human olfactory mucosa.
Exposure to air particulate matter impairs the metabolism of olfactory mucosal cells, according to a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland. The results can contribute to a better understanding of how air pollutants may harm brain health, as the olfactory mucosa can act as a key pathway to the brain.
In the last decade, the adverse effects of ambient air pollutants, including particulate matter, on the central nervous system is increasingly reported by epidemiological, animal and post-mortem studies. Exposure to air pollutants has been associated with neurodegenerative disorders, among other things. The association of air pollutant exposure with deteriorating brain health is speculated to be driven by particulate matter entry via the olfactory mucosa, a neural tissue located at the upper part of the nasal cavity. The olfactory mucosa consists of a mixture of diverse cell types that are important for the sense of smell, as the only neural tissue outside of the brain. It acts as a first line of defence against inhaled agents, including air pollutants. How air pollutant exposure affects this key brain entry site remains elusive.
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