Exposure to Pfas, a class of chemicals found in various products from paints to cosmetics, could be linked to nervous system diseases such as Parkinson’s.
This was stated by a study by the University of Padua presented at the webinar of the conference “Exposure to Pfas and clinical manifestations: health intervention strategies”, which was held in recent days.
In the research, samples were taken from different areas of the brain tissue. In the presence of significant plasma concentrations of the substances, important signs of accumulation were found especially in areas consisting of particular neurons called dopaminergic, such as the hypothalamus. “Preliminary data suggest an involvement of the cells involved in the degenerative process of Parkinson’s,” explains Angelo Antonini, head of the Parkinson’s and Rare Neurological Diseases Unit of the Neurological Clinic of the University of Padua.
«Still – he continues – we do not know if Pfas can then cause an alteration in the degradation processes of the protein underlying this disease. However, they confirm a vulnerability of these brain nuclei and that environmental factors together with the genetic profile probably play an important role as a trigger in the degenerative process ».
To verify the biological effects of these substances on dopaminergic neurons, neuronal stem cells at different stages of differentiation, up to the mature dopaminergic neuron, were grown in the laboratory. It has been observed that Pfas at concentrations similar to those found in brain areas integrate with neuronal membranes, modifying their structure and stability.
“For the first time it has been shown that in humans these chemicals can modify the function of nerve cells”, comments Carlo Foresta, professor of Endocrinology at the University of Padua. ‘Further studies are needed to quantify the consequences on people’s health. The observations that demonstrate a greater sensitivity of not yet mature neuronal cells suggest that the effects of Pfas may be more evident during the most sensitive phases of the development of the nervous system such as in the embryo ».