Association between exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and brain cortical thinning: The Environmental Pollution-Induced Neurological EFfects (EPINEF) study

Jaelim Cho, Jungwoo Sohn, Juhwan Noh, Heeseon Jang, Woojin Kim, Seong Kyung Cho, Hwasun Seo, Gayoung Seo, Seung Koo Lee, Young Noh, Seongho Seo, Sang Baek Koh, Sung Soo Oh, Hee Jin Kim, Sang Won Seo, Dae Seock Shin, Nakyoung Kim, Ho Hyun Kim, Jung Il Lee, Sun Young KimChangsoo Kim

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7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Although some studies have suggested that exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) induces neurodevelopmental disturbances in children and neurodegeneration in animals, the neurotoxic effect of PAH exposure is unclear in adults. The aim was to examine the associations of PAH exposure with brain structure and neuropsychological function in adults without known neurological diseases. Methods: This study included 421 men and 528 women dwelling in four cities in the Republic of Korea. Urinary concentrations of four PAH metabolites (1-hydroxypyrene, 2-naphthol, 1-hydroxyphenanthrene, and 2-hydroxyfluorene) were obtained. Participants underwent brain 3 T magnetic resonance imaging and neuropsychological tests. Cortical thickness and volume were estimated using the region-of-interest method. Separate generalized linear models were constructed for each sex, adjusting for age, years of education, cohabitation status, income, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and vascular risk factors. Results: The mean (standard deviation) age was 68.3 (6.6) years in men and 66.4 (6.1) years in women. In men, those in quartile 4 (versus quartile 1, the lowest) of urinary 2-naphthol concentration had cortical thinning in the global (β = −0.03, P = .02), parietal (β = −0.04, P = .01), temporal (β = −0.06, P < .001), and insular lobes (β = −0.05, P = .02). Higher quartiles of urinary 2-naphthol concentration were associated with cortical thinning in the global (P = .01), parietal (P = .004), temporal (P < .001), and insular lobes (P = .01). In women, those in quartile 4 (versus quartile 1) of urinary 1-hydroxypyrene concentration had cortical thinning in the frontal (β = −0.03, P = .006) and parietal lobes (β = −0.03, P = .003). Higher quartiles of urinary 1-hydroxypyrene concentration were associated with cortical thinning in the frontal (P = .006) and parietal lobes (P = .001). In both sexes, verbal learning and memory scores significantly declined with an increase in quartile of urinary 1-hydroxypyrene concentration. Conclusions: PAH exposure was associated with cortical thinning and decline in verbal learning and memory function in cognitively healthy adults. This suggests PAHs as an environmental risk factor for neurodegeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number140097
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume737
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from: 1) the Korea Ministry of Environment (MOE) under “the Environmental Health Action Program” (grant No. 2014001360002 ); 2) grants from the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (grant No. HI18C1629 & HI14C1135 ).

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from: 1) the Korea Ministry of Environment (MOE) under ?the Environmental Health Action Program? (grant No. 2014001360002); 2) grants from the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (grant No. HI18C1629 & HI14C1135).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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