Editorial: Chemicals in the Environment and Brain Development: Importance of Neuroendocrinological Approaches


In the past three decades, a sharp increase in the number of children diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders has been observed; the reason for this is not well-explained (Weintraub, 2011). The human genome does not change rapidly; this suggests that non-genetic factors are the driving forces of this dramatic surge. Several reports, including epidemiological studies, have found an association between in utero and childhood exposure to certain environmental chemicals and children's brain development. Yet, the mechanisms by which these chemicals impair brain development and function are not fully understood. In addition, how these chemicals enter and accumulate in the brain are still unknown. Experimental approaches are essential to understand how those harmful chemicals enter children's brain and pose discrete effects on specific brain sites. These approaches include the following: improvement of technologies for the detection and measurement of neuroendocrinological and behavioral changes in animal models: development of analytical methods for the identification and quantification of chemicals and their metabolites in the brain; development of in vitro cell line assays; and imaging technologies to illustrate cellular functions. In this Research Topic, we collected articles that provide state-of-the-art science and technologies that can help us identify environmental chemicals that influence brain development. We also included articles that lead to a better understanding of the actions and dynamics of these chemicals. As summarized in the review by Fujiwara et al. certain chemical exposures such as atmospherically released chemicals (volatile organic chemicals and pesticides), metals, endocrine disruptors, and psychoactive pharmaceuticals are associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder, a neurodevelopmental disorder. Thus, we especially encouraged researchers to submit their works that are related to fetal and early childhood (i.e., early-life) exposure to these chemicals. Among volatile organic chemicals, Win-Shwe et al. revealed that early-life exposure to secondary organic aerosol, a component of particulate matter (PM), especially PM 2.5 , impairs social memory in adulthood; this was demonstrated using the murine three-chamber test. As for pesticides,

DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2017.00133

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Maekawa2017EditorialCI, title={Editorial: Chemicals in the Environment and Brain Development: Importance of Neuroendocrinological Approaches}, author={Fumihiko Maekawa and Kazuaki Nakamura and Shoji F. Nakayama}, booktitle={Front. Neurosci.}, year={2017} }