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Interactions Between Nanosized Materials and the Brain

[ Vol. 21 , Issue. 37 ]


M. Simko and Mats-Olof Mattsson   Pages 4200 - 4214 ( 15 )


The current rapid development of nanotechnologies and engineered nanomaterials (ENM) will impact the society in a major fashion during the coming decades. This development also causes substantial safety concerns. Among the many promising applications of ENM, products that can be used for diagnosis and treatment of diseases, including conditions that affect the nervous system, are under development. ENM can pass the blood brain barrier (BBB) and accumulate within the brain. It seems that the nano-form rather than the bulk form of the chemicals pass the BBB, and that there is an inverse relationship between particle size and the ability to penetrate the BBB. Although translocation of ENM to the brain is possible during experimental conditions, the health relevance for real-life situations is far from clear. One major reason for this is that studies have been using nanoparticle concentrations that are far higher than the ones that can be expected during realistic exposures. However, very high exposure to the CNS can cause effects on neurotransmission, redox homeostasis and behavior. Available studies have been focusing on possible effects of the first generation of ENM. It will be necessary to study possible health effects also of expected novel sophisticated materials, independent of the outcome of present studies. The prospects for intended or targeted medical applications are promising since it has been shown that ENM can be made to pass the BBB and reach specific regions or cells within the brain.


Axonal transport, blood-brain-barrier, brain, in vivo, in vitro, nanoparticle, translocation, unintended and intended exposure.


Health and Environment Department, Environmental Resources and Technologies, Austrian Institute of Technology, Konrad-Lorenz-Strasse 24, A-3430 Tulln, Austria.

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