Carbon monoxide’s reputation as a stealth toxin goes beyond its
odorless, colorless properties. The gas can also surreptitiously cause delayed
permanent brain damage, an effect that scientists have been unable to explain.
But now they are no longer in the dark. A new study reveals that the
damage arises from overactivation of immune cells that attack proteins that
help insulate nerves.
The findings were published in the September 1 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (http://www.pnas.org).
Hampton T. Study Finds Carbon Monoxide Can Trigger Brain-Damaging Attack by Immune System. JAMA. 2004;292(13):1542. doi:10.1001/jama.292.13.1542