Alzheimer’s Risk & Air Pollution

Posted On: 02-03-2017
Alzheimer’s Risk & Air Pollution
A new study led by scientists at the University of Southern California’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology found that air pollution could increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The study was published in Translational Psychiatry.

During the study, samples of air particles were collected and then exposed to female mice. This was done with a state-of-the-art aerosol technology involving particle concentrators, which essentially takes the air of an urban area and converts it to the air that would be found in a heavily polluted area, according to the study’s co-author.

The samples were used to test exposure and assess adverse health effects. The mice, which carried a genetic variation that increases the risk for Alzheimer’s, had 60 percent more amyloid plaque after exposure to air pollution for 15 weeks. Amyloid plaque is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The scientists also looked at data on more than 3,600 women in the United States in between the ages of 65 and 79 years. It was found that while none of the women had dementia when the study began, those living in areas where air pollution exceeded federal standards had a greater risk of experiencing cognitive decline or developing dementia. In some cases, the risk was as much as 92 percent higher.

Microscopic air particles enter into the body through the nose, where they travel to the brain. The cells in the brain treat the particles as foreign invaders and respond with inflammatory responses, which appear to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease over time.

While this is a new development, this recent study indicates that air pollution from power plants and cars are indeed dangerous for aging brains. However, it is important to note that studies involving animals are not always proof of the same results in humans. This study was the first of its kind performed in the United States.

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