Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 2
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Roy, Ananya Ettinger, Adrienne S. Hu, Howard Bellinger, David Schwartz, Joel Modali, Rama Wright, Robert O. Palaniappan, Kavitha and Balakrishnan, Kalpana 2013. Effect modification by transferrin C2 polymorphism on lead exposure, hemoglobin levels, and IQ. NeuroToxicology, Vol. 38, p. 17.

    Miodovnik, Amir 2011. Environmental Neurotoxicants and Developing Brain. Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine: A Journal of Translational and Personalized Medicine, Vol. 78, Issue. 1, p. 58.

  • Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, Volume 2, Issue 1
  • February 2011, pp. 17-24

Effects of early low-level lead exposure on human brain structure, organization and functions

  • K. M. Cecil (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 28 September 2010

Advanced neuroimaging techniques offer unique insights into how childhood lead exposure impacts the brain. Volumetric magnetic resonance imaging affords anatomical information about the size of global, regional and subcomponent structures within the brain. Diffusion tensor imaging provides information about white matter architecture by quantitatively describing how water molecules diffuse within it. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy generates quantitative measures of neuronal, axonal and glial elements via concentration levels of select metabolites. Functional magnetic resonance imaging infers neuronal activity associated with a given task performed. Employing these techniques in the study of the Cincinnati Lead Study, a relatively homogeneous birth cohort longitudinally monitored for over 30 years, one can non-invasively and quantitatively explore how childhood lead exposure is associated with adult brain structure, organization and function. These studies yield important findings how environmental lead exposure impacts human health.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: K. M. Cecil, PhD, Professor, Radiology, Pediatrics, Neuroscience & Environmental Health, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Department of Radiology, MLC 5033, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA. (Email
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

3.J Mani , N Chaudhary , M Kanjalkar , PU Shah . Cerebellar ataxia due to lead encephalopathy in an adult. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatr. 1998; 65, 797.

4.M Tuzun , D Tuzun , A Salan , B Hekimoglu . Lead encephalopathy: CT and MR findings. J Comput Assist Tomogr. 2002; 26, 479481.

7.RL Canfield , MH Gendle , DA Cory-Slechta . Impaired neuropsychological functioning in lead-exposed children. Dev Neuropsychol. 2004; 26, 513540.

8.RL Canfield , CR Henderson Jr, DA Cory-Slechta , Intellectual impairment in children with blood lead concentrations below 10 microg per deciliter. N Engl J Med. 2003; 348, 15171526.

9.KN Dietrich , OG Berger , PA Succop , PB Hammond , RL Bornschein . The developmental consequences of low to moderate prenatal and postnatal lead exposure: intellectual attainment in the cincinnati lead study Cohort following school entry. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1993; 15, 3744.

10.HL Needleman , CA Gatsonis . Low-level lead exposure and the IQ of children. A meta-analysis of modern studies. JAMA. 1990; 263, 673678.

11.JP Wright , KN Dietrich , MD Ris , Association of prenatal and childhood blood lead concentrations with criminal arrests in early adulthood. PLoS Med. 2008; 5, e101.

12.J Ashburner , KJ Friston . Voxel-based morphometry – the methods. Neuroimage. 2000; 11, 805821.

13.D Le Bihan , JF Mangin , C Poupon , Diffusion tensor imaging: concepts and applications. J Magn Reson Imaging. 2001; 13, 534546.

14.C Beaulieu . The basis of anisotropic water diffusion in the nervous system – a technical review. NMR Biomed. 2002; 15, 435455.

15.JH Kim , MD Budde , HF Liang , Detecting axon damage in spinal cord from a mouse model of multiple sclerosis. Neurobiol Dis. 2006; 21, 626632.

16.Y Kinoshita , A Ohnishi , K Kohshi , A Yokota . Apparent diffusion coefficient on rat brain and nerves intoxicated with methylmercury. Environ Res. 1999; 80, 348354.

17.S-K Song , S-W Sun , W-K Ju , Diffusion tensor imaging detects and differentiates axon and myelin degeneration in mouse optic nerve after retinal ischemia. Neuroimage. 2003; 20, 17141722.

18.SC Partridge , P Mukherjee , RG Henry , Diffusion tensor imaging: serial quantitation of white matter tract maturity in premature newborns. Neuroimage. 2004; 22, 13021314.

19.S-K Song , S-W Sun , MJ Ramsbottom , Dysmyelination revealed through MRI as increased radial (but Unchanged Axial) diffusion of water. Neuroimage. 2002; 17, 14291436.

20.S-K Song , J Yoshino , TQ Le , Demyelination increases radial diffusivity in corpus callosum of mouse brain. Neuroimage. 2005; 26, 132140.

21.Y Suzuki , H Matsuzawa , IL Kwee , T Nakada . Absolute eigenvalue diffusion tensor analysis for human brain maturation. NMR Biomed. 2003; 16, 257260.

22.KN Dietrich , PA Succop , OG Berger , PB Hammond , RL Bornschein . Lead exposure and the cognitive development of urban preschool children: the cincinnati lead study cohort at age 4 years. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1991; 13, 203211.

23.KM Cecil , CJ Brubaker , CM Adler , Decreased brain volume in adults with childhood lead exposure. PLoS Med. 2008; 5, e112.

24.CJ Brubaker , KN Dietrich , BP Lanphear , KM Cecil . The influence of age of lead exposure on adult gray matter volume. Neurotoxicology. 2010; 31, 259266.

26.CJ Brubaker , VJ Schmithorst , EN Haynes , Altered myelination and axonal integrity in adults with childhood lead exposure: a diffusion tensor imaging study. Neurotoxicology. 2009; 30, 867875.

27.W Yuan , SK Holland , KM Cecil , The impact of early childhood lead exposure on brain organization: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study of language function. Pediatrics. 2006; 118, 971977.

28.CD Toscano , TR Guilarte . Lead neurotoxicity: from exposure to molecular effects. Brain Res Rev. 2005; 49, 529554.

30.W Deng , RD Poretz . Lead exposure affects levels of galactolipid metabolic enzymes in the developing rat brain. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2001; 172, 98107.

31.NH Zawia , GJ Harry . Exposure to lead-acetate modulates the developmental expression of myelin genes in the rat frontal lobe. Int J Dev Neurosci. 1995; 13, 639644.

32.AD Toews , WD Blaker , DJ Thomas , Myelin deficits produced by early postnatal exposure to inorganic lead or triethyltin are persistent. J Neurochem. 1983; 41, 816822.

33.AD Toews , MR Krigman , DJ Thomas , P Morell . Effect of inorganic lead exposure on myelination in the rat. Neurochem Res. 1980; 5, 605616.

34.W Deng , RD Poretz . Protein kinase C activation is required for the lead-induced inhibition of proliferation and differentiation of cultured oligodendroglial progenitor cells. Brain Res. 2002; 929, 8795.

35.B Dabrowska-Bouta , L Struzynska , M Walski , U Rafalowska . Myelin glycoproteins targeted by lead in the rodent model of prolonged exposure. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008; 46, 961966.

36.B Dabrowska-Bouta , G Sulkowski , G Bartosz , M Walski , U Rafalowska . Chronic lead intoxication affects the myelin membrane status in the central nervous system of adult rats. J Mol Neurosci. 1999; 13, 127139.

38.L Struzynska , I Bubko , M Walski , U Rafalowska . Astroglial reaction during the early phase of acute lead toxicity in the adult rat brain. Toxicology. 2001; 165, 121131.

39.L Struzynska , B Dabrowska-Bouta , K Koza , G Sulkowski . Inflammation-like glial response in lead-exposed immature rat brain. Toxicol Sci. 2007; 95, 156162.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
  • ISSN: 2040-1744
  • EISSN: 2040-1752
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-developmental-origins-of-health-and-disease
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *