Air pollution particles in brains linked to Alzheimer’s

06 October 2020

New research published in the scientific journal, Environmental Research, links air pollution to brain changes associated with diseases like Alzheimer’s.

What our expert said:

Dr Susan Kohlhaas, Director of Research from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Air pollution is linked to many adverse health conditions and a growing body of evidence suggests this includes our risk of developing dementia. Dementia is not an inevitable part of getting older, but factors including age, genetics, and the environment we live in all affect the risk of developing the condition.

“This study looks at brain tissue from a group of predominately young people who died from non-brain related causes in the mid-2000s in Mexico City. While it is intriguing to investigate brain changes in those that have sadly died, at this stage we cannot take these findings and apply them to the wider population.

“Proteins do build up in the brain years before we see visible dementia symptoms, but more research is needed before we can suggest air pollution drives brain changes associated with disease in children. Importantly, this study provides no evidence that the changes in these brains caused dementia in these individuals, most of whom died of unrelated causes before they went onto develop the condition.

“With one in three people born today expected to develop dementia in their lifetime, there is a pressing need to identify and understand potential risk factors for the condition. Good brain health should be a focus throughout life to reduce the risk of dementia and working towards cleaner air in our cities should remain a critical public health goal.”

Read the research:

Environmental Research: Quadruple abnormal protein aggregates in brainstem pathology and exogenous metal-rich magnetic nanoparticles (and engineered Ti-rich nanorods). The substantia nigrae is a very early target in young urbanites and the gastrointestinal tract a key brainstem portal.