Ambient fine particulate exposure and subcortical gray matter microarchitecture in 9- and 10-year-old children across the United States


Neuroimaging studies showing the adverse effects of air pollution on neurodevelopment have largely focused on smaller samples from limited geographical locations and have implemented univariant approaches to assess exposure and brain macrostructure. Herein, we implement restriction spectrum imaging and a multivariate approach to examine how one year of annual exposure to daily fine particulate matter (PM2.5), daily nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and 8-h maximum ozone (O3) at ages 9-10 years relates to subcortical gray matter microarchitecture in a geographically diverse subsample of children from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study℠. Adjusting for confounders, we identified a latent variable representing 66% of the variance between one year of air pollution and subcortical gray matter microarchitecture. PM2.5 was related to greater isotropic intracellular diffusion in the thalamus, brainstem, and accumbens, which related to cognition and internalizing symptoms. These findings may be indicative of previously identified air pollution-related risk for neuroinflammation and early neurodegenerative pathologies.