Fluoride Action Network

Abstract

Fluorides occur naturally in the environment, the daily exposure of human organism to fluorine mainly depends on the intake of this element with drinking water and it is connected with the geographical region. In some countries, we can observe the endemic fluorosis-the damage of hard and soft tissues caused by the excessive intake of fluorine. Recent studies showed that fluorine is toxic to the central nervous system (CNS). There are several known mechanisms which lead to structural brain damage caused by the excessive intake of fluorine. This element is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, and it accumulates in neurons affecting cytological changes, cell activity and ion transport (e.g. chlorine transport). Additionally, fluorine changes the concentration of non-enzymatic advanced glycation end products (AGEs), the metabolism of neurotransmitters (influencing mainly glutamatergic neurotransmission) and the energy metabolism of neurons by the impaired glucose transporter-GLUT1. It can also change activity and lead to dysfunction of important proteins which are part of the respiratory chain. Fluorine also affects oxidative stress, glial activation and inflammation in the CNS which leads to neurodegeneration. All of those changes lead to abnormal cell differentiation and the activation of apoptosis through the changes in the expression of neural cell adhesion molecules (NCAM), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and MAP kinases. Excessive exposure to this element can cause harmful effects such as permanent damage of all brain structures, impaired learning ability, memory dysfunction and behavioural problems. This paper provides an overview of the fluoride neurotoxicity in juveniles and adults.