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Int J Toxicol. 2010 Dec;29(6):604-15. doi: 10.1177/1091581810383587. Epub 2010 Oct 28.

Urban air pollution targets the dorsal vagal complex and dark chocolate offers neuroprotection.

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Davidson Honors College, University of Montana, 32 Campus Drive, 287 Skaggs Bldg, Missoula, MT 59812, USA.


Mexico City (MC) residents exposed to fine particulate matter and endotoxin exhibit inflammation of the olfactory bulb, substantia nigra, and vagus nerve. The goal of this study was to model these endpoints in mice and examine the neuroprotective effects of chocolate. Mice exposed to MC air received no treatment or oral dark chocolate and were compared to clean-air mice either untreated or treated intraperitoneally with endotoxin. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β), and CD14 messenger RNA (mRNA) were quantified after 4, 8, and 16 months of exposure in target brain regions. After 16 months of exposure, the dorsal vagal complex (DVC) exhibited significant inflammation in endotoxin-treated and MC mice (COX-2 and IL-1β P<.001). Mexico City mice had olfactory bulb upregulation of CD14 (P=.002) and significant DVC imbalance in genes for antioxidant defenses, apoptosis, and neurodegeneration. These findings demonstrate sustained DVC inflammation in mice exposed to MC air, which is mitigated by chocolate administration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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