Alzheimer's disease may be linked to flame retardant chemicals

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By Jimmy Downs

Thursday Dec 6, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new study in PLoS One suggests that exposure to flame retardant chemicals like polybrominated bisphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers may increase risk of dementia like Alzheimer's disease.

F. Al-Mousa and F. Michelangeli at School of Biosciences, University Of Birmingham in Edgbaston, Birmingham, United Kingdom tested some of most commonly used brominated flame retardants in SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells and found all tested flame retardants toxic to brain cells at low micromolar concentrations.

The flame retardant chemicals tested in the study were hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), tetrabromobisphenol-A (TBBPA) and decabromodiphenyl ether (DBPE).

Specifically, the researchers found the flame retardant s induced cell death and increased intracellular calcium ion levels and reactive oxygen species within neuronal cells.

These toxic flame retardant chemicals "also caused rapid depolarization of the mitochondria and cytochrome c release in neuronal cells" that were exposed to the flame retardants. 

Additionally, tested flame retardant chemicals caused "β-amyloid peptide (Aβ-42) processing and release from these cells with a few hours of exposure."   

The researchers conclude "These results therefore shows that these pollutants are both neurotoxic and amyloidogenic in-vitro."

Alzheimer's disease is believed to be caused by β-amyloid plaques.  Could flame retardants increase risk of dementia like Alzheimer's disease?

Flame retardants are used all sorts of household products including electronics, furniture, carpets, toys, clothes, goods intended for infants' use. They have been found associated with a range of health conditions including congenital cryptorchidism in newborn boys, altered thyroid hormone levels, diabetes mellitus, reduced fertility, and ovarian cancer among others.

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