The Brain and Lung Tumor and Air Pollution Foundation is providing the funds for the south coast air quality management district study.
The National Toxicology Program, an interagency program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Institute of Environmental Health Services, has identified 13 chemicals that have caused brain tumors. The Cedars-Sinai study will focus on three – naphthalene, butadiene and isoprene – that often are associated with polluted air.
Naphthalene, used in the plastics industry and a component of mothballs and other products, may be released into the air when coal and oil are burned. Butadiene, used in rubber manufacturing and found in vehicle exhaust, exists in low levels in the air of urban and suburban areas. Isoprene, a natural compound produced by certain trees and shrubs, is used in manufacturing synthetic rubber and adhesives. Alone, it usually is not considered an air pollutant, but when it mixes with high levels of nitric oxide – which often occurs in industrial areas – the combination produces "ground-level" ozone, which can be harmful when inhaled.
The air pollution study is intended to determine whether up to 12 months of ongoing exposure to air pollution causes molecular changes in the brain that are consistent with the development of brain tumor pathways and if toxins associated with air pollution can cross the brain's natural defense mechanism – the blood-brain barrier.
"Most studies looking at central nervous system cancers have focused on occupational hazards and have found that many manufacturing, farming, chemical and other industries are associated with increased risk. In this study, we will learn about particular components of air pollution and how they may be involved with the abnormal expression of genes and proteins that activate cancer stem cells. This may increase our understanding of air pollution as a potential risk factor for the generation of brain cancer," said Keith Black, MD, chair and professor of the Department of Neurosurgery, director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute, director of the Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Brain Tumor Center and the Ruth and Lawrence Harvey Chair in Neuroscience.
Black is principal investigator of this study. He and other Cedars-Sinai researchers have conducted earlier studies on air pollution and molecular brain changes that could lead to cancer development – primarily on the potential effects of diesel fuel exhaust – for the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
In the new study, researchers will examine tissue exposed to pollutants at three months, six months and 12 months to determine if there is a change with longer exposure compared to shorter.
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