Microglia are the primary immune cells of the central nervous system and become activated in response to noxious stimuli, leading to a cycle of inflammation and cell death that has been implicated in the development of Parkinson’s disease and autism. This study examines the effects of environmental toxins, at levels commonly found in humans, on microglial cell survival and activation. The toxins used in this study include polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants, the food additive propionic acid (PPA), and the organochlorine pesticide dieldrin. These chemicals have been linked to neuronal damage, although their effects on microglial cells have not been fully studied. Our results indicate that microglial cell survival could be decreased by as much as 50% due to exposure to these toxins, without the production of certain cytokines produced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced activation. These effects are significant as further understanding of the role of microglia in neuronal damage could provide a pharmacologic target for future drug development as well as elucidate the pathology of neurodegenerative diseases.
Hill, J. L.; Teijelo, C.; To, H. M.; Meyer, A.; Micca, E. S.; Vaughn, N.; and Lull, Melinda E., "Environmental Toxins Linked to Neurodegeneration and Autism Activate the Brain’s Immune System" (2012). Pharmacy Faculty/Staff Publications. Paper 26.
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