Question of the Day – Wednesday March 7, 2018

Question- What is the basis for the neurological damage that may result from the chronic inhalational abuse of toluene?

Answer- The cited reference notes “Results from case studies of toluene abusers suggest that some of the neurological symptoms associated with chronic toluene abuse may be the result of permanent structural changes in the brain. Evaluation of chronic toluene abusers by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) has shown an increase in the white matter signal, a loss of gray and white matter differentiation, and decreased perfusion in the cerebral cortex, basal ganglia, and thalami. Cerebral, cerebellar, and brainstem atrophy were also present. Correlations between clinical signs of neurological impairment and damage visible in MRI images have also been reported. Abnormalities in MRI and brainstem auditory-evoked response (BAER) results were still present in chronic abusers who had refrained from toluene exposure for two to nine months.” (https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp56-c3.pdf; accessed February 2018)