Investigating the relationship between central nervous system biomarkers and short-term exposure to PM10-bound metals during dust storms

Ahmad Badeenezhad, Mohammad Ali Baghapour, Armin Sorooshian, Mojtaba Keshavarz, Abooalfazl Azhdarpoor, Gholamreza Goudarzi, Mohammad Hoseini

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16 Scopus citations


Epidemiological studies have reported an association between air pollution and central nervous system disorders. However, its biological mechanisms are poorly understood. This study aimed to determine the effect of short-term environmental exposure to PM10 and associated heavy metals on changes in blood and urinary nervous markers in dusty conditions. A total of 44 healthy non-smokers were identified with a mean age of 36 years. Blood and urine samples were taken from these people 24 h before and after the dust storm to measure the biomarkers of the central nervous system. Cortisol, white blood cells (WBCs), neuron-specific enolase (NSE), and S100β were measured as blood markers, while vanillylmandelic acid (VMA) and homovanillic acid (HVA) were tracked as urine markers. These people had 7 h of environmental exposure in dusty conditions. Eleven heavy metals (Al, As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Co, Pb, and Zn) associated with PM10 were measured. The average PM10 concentration on dust days was 3.25 times higher than on normal days (309.81 μg m−3 vs. 86.11 μg m−3). The results of the statistical paired T-test showed that the mean S100β from pre-exposure to post-exposure increased by 5.85 ng L−1 (P ≤ 0.004). The NSE mean of the pre-exposure (3.37 ± 3.48 μg L−1) was significantly different from the NSE mean after exposure)4.15 ± 3.74 μg L−1 ((P = 0.002). The post-exposure WBC mean was 0.59 times higher than that before exposure, albeit not statistically significant (P = 0.269). The mean VMA after exposure increased by 0.55 mg g−1 CRT (Creatinine) compared to that before exposure. This difference was statistically significant (P = 0.000). Changes in S100β after exposure to dust storms had a high correlation with changes in Cr, Pb, and Fe metal concentrations, respectively (r = 0.81, r = 0.72, r = 0. 65). NSE changes were significantly associated with changes in Mn, Cd, and Fe (r = 0.71, r = 0.99, r = 0.71). Heavy metals associated with PM10 can damage neurons and astrocytes, promoting neuropsychiatric disorders in people with exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2022-2029
Number of pages8
JournalAtmospheric Pollution Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Biomarkers
  • Central nervous system
  • Dust storm
  • Heavy metals
  • PM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Atmospheric Science


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