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Occupational Exposure to Polychlorinated Biphenyls: Development of Neuropsychological Functions Over Time.

Neurotoxicology 2024 January 11
Occupational exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) continues to affect the health of exposed individuals until today. This study aims to expand previous findings by examining the development of neuropsychological functions of occupationally exposed participants over time. Especially verbal fluency and sensorimotor processing, found to be impaired in a previous study, were thus of particular interest. A total of 116 participants, who were part of the HELPcB cohort, underwent a neuropsychological test battery covering a multitude of cognitive functions. Plasma PCB levels were determined for each participant and classified as elevated or normal based on comparative values drawn from the German general population. Two structural equation models were then used to examine the effects of elevated PCB levels on neuropsychological functions. Results suggest that participants who displayed increased PCB plasma levels continued to show impairments in verbal fluency but not in sensorimotor processing after a second examination one year after the first measurement. Specifically, low chlorinated PCBs are associated with impaired verbal fluency, as compared to high-chlorinated and dioxin-like congeners. Alteration of dopamine concentration in response to PCB exposure might be a potential explanation of this result.

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