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Med Hypotheses. 2014 Jan;82(1):97-104. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2013.11.016. Epub 2013 Nov 21.

Uptake of environmental toxicants by the locus ceruleus: a potential trigger for neurodegenerative, demyelinating and psychiatric disorders.

Author information

1
The Stacey Motor Neuron Disease Laboratory, Department of Pathology, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Australia. Electronic address: roger.pamphlett@sydney.edu.au.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Damage to the locus ceruleus, with a subsequent decrease of CNS noradrenaline, occurs in a wide range of neurodegenerative, demyelinating and psychiatric disorders. The cause of the initial locus ceruleus damage remains unknown. Recently, inorganic mercury was found to enter human locus ceruleus neurons selectively. This has led to the formulation of a new hypothesis as to the cause of these disorders.

HYPOTHESIS:

Toxicants enter locus ceruleus neurons selectively, aided by the extensive exposure these neurons have to CNS capillaries, as well as by stressors that upregulate locus ceruleus activity. The resulting noradrenaline dysfunction affects a wide range of CNS cells and can trigger a number of neurodegenerative (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and motor neuron disease), demyelinating (multiple sclerosis), and psychiatric (major depression and bipolar disorder) conditions.

CONCLUSIONS:

This hypothesis proposes that environmental toxicants entering the locus ceruleus can give rise to a variety of CNS disorders. Proposals are made for experiments to gain further evidence for this hypothesis. If it is shown that toxicants in the locus ceruleus are responsible for these conditions, attempts can be made to prevent the toxicant exposures or to remove the toxicants from the nervous system.

PMID:
24315447
DOI:
10.1016/j.mehy.2013.11.016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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