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Millions of urban children are chronically exposed to high concentrations of air pollutants, i.e., fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone, associated with increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Compared with children living with clear air those in Mexico City (MC) exhibit systemic, brain and intrathecal inflammation, low CSF Aβ 42, breakdown of the BBB, attention and short-term memory deficits, prefrontal white matter hyperintensities, damage to epithelial and endothelial barriers, tight junction and neural autoantibodies, and Alzheimer and Parkinson's hallmarks. The prefrontal white matter is a target of air pollution. We examined by light and electron microscopy the prefrontal white matter of MC dogs (n: 15, age 3.17±0.74 years), children and teens (n: 34, age: 12.64±4.2 years) versus controls. Major findings in MC residents included leaking capillaries and small arterioles with extravascular lipids and erythrocytes, lipofuscin in pericytes, smooth muscle and endothelial cells (EC), thickening of cerebrovascular basement membranes with small deposits of amyloid, patchy absence of the perivascular glial sheet, enlarged Virchow-Robin spaces and nanosize particles (20-48 nm) in EC, basement membranes, axons and dendrites. Tight junctions, a key component of the neurovascular unit (NVU) were abnormal in MC versus control dogs (χ2 <0.0001), and white matter perivascular damage was significantly worse in MC dogs (p= 0.002). The integrity of the NVU, an interactive network of vascular, glial and neuronal cells is compromised in MC young residents. Characterizing the early NVU damage and identifying biomarkers of neurovascular dysfunction may provide a fresh insight into Alzheimer pathogenesis and open opportunities for pediatric neuroprotection.


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This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. © 2016, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Atrribution-NonCommercial-No Derivatives 4.0 Licence. Details regarding the use of this work can be found at: . The final, definitive version of this document can be found online at Environmental Research, doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.12.031

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