We assessed brainstem inflammation in children exposed to air pollutants by comparing brainstem auditory evoked potentials (BAEPs) and blood inflammatory markers in children age 96.3±8.5 months from highly polluted (n=34) versus a low polluted city (n=17). The brainstems of nine children with accidental deaths were also examined. Children from the highly polluted environment had significant delays in wave III (t(50)=17.038; p<0.0001) and wave V (t(50)=19.730; p<0.0001) but no delay in wave I (p=0.548). They also had significantly longer latencies than controls for interwave intervals I-III, III-V, and I-V (all t(50)>7.501; p<0.0001), consisting with delayed central conduction time of brainstem neural transmission. Highly exposed children showed significant evidence of inflammatory markers and their auditory and vestibular nuclei accumulated α synuclein and/or β amyloid1-42. Medial superior olive neurons, critically involved in BAEPs, displayed significant pathology. Children's exposure to urban air pollution increases their risk for auditory and vestibular impairment.

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International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience
Department of Neuroscience

Calderón-Garcidueñas, L. (Lilian), D'Angiulli, A, Kulesza, R.J. (Randy J.), Torres-Jardón, R. (Ricardo), Osnaya, N. (Norma), Romero, L. (Lina), … González-González, L.O. (Luis Oscar). (2011). Air pollution is associated with brainstem auditory nuclei pathology and delayed brainstem auditory evoked potentials. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, 29(4), 365–375. doi:10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2011.03.007