In a recent journal published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity* we can truly see how mold is bad news for the brain. In this study they dripped Stachybotrys fungi into the nose of rats (can’t imagine having this job!) and found within a short period of time hippocampal immune activation, decreased memory and striking anxiety and as well reduced levels of dopamine .
Study findings included:
1. People are typically exposed to complex mixtures of molds, bacteria, and dust that activate stronger, synergistic immune responses than predicted by adding the effects of the individual stimuli.
2. Mold exposure in homes is underestimated.
3. Most mold exposure is not from spores, but to nanoparticles that are often hundreds, up to as much as a million times, more numerous and penetrate much deeper into the lungs than whole spores and inhaled mold and mycotoxins that essentially “hijack” the olfactory highway into the brain. Of note, it appears the brain is highly vulnerable to mold invasion due to its high fat content and the lipophilic nature of mold. Many mycotoxins can easily cross the blood brain barrier and disrupt not only microglial cells, but also astrocyte that provide the scaffolding and oligodendrocytes, which are important for myelin production.
4. Since exposure to mold often persists for months or even years, it might be expected to cause prolonged innate immune activation of the type already demonstrated to be neurotoxic in a variety of diseases and even if mold exposure is ceased, neuro-immune mechanisms persists for a long time.
5. Mold exposure, both toxic and nontoxic, must be considered another factor like pesticide exposure or smoking that can add to an individual’s burden of inflammation with possible serious consequences for health and behavior.
Bottom line: Mold is a real concern and can negatively impact the wellbeing of our brains! As more studies provide links between neurological conditions and mold exposure, we can only hope that the resulting disorders exhibited by our patients is taken more seriously as a very real medical issue.
Source: Harding, C.F., Pytte, C.L., Page, K.G., Ryberg, K.J., Normand, E., Remigio, G.J., DeStefano, R.A., Morris, D.B., Voronina, J., Lopez, A., Stalbow, L.A., Williams, E.P., Abreu, o., Mold inhalation causes innate immune activation, neural, cognitive and emotional dysfunction, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity (2019), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2019.11.006
by Suzanne Gazda M.D.