New findings from the lab of Caleb Finch, Ph.D., provide strong evidence for a causal link between Alzheimer’s disease and air pollution. Scientists have long suspected that small-particle air pollution, which comes from vehicle exhaust and other sources, might increase risk for the disease. Finch’s work, published in Nature on Tuesday, supports this theory with both epidemiological and toxicological evidence.
Finch and his colleagues studied the effects of air pollution in two ways. First, they analyzed health data from a cohort of over 3,600 elderly women across the United States over a period of 11 years, comparing dementia rates in areas with relatively more or less air pollution. Next, they looked for amyloid plaques – a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease – in the brains of mice exposed to common air pollutants. Both studies indicated an increase in risk for dementia from exposure to high levels of small-particle air pollution.
Finch’s work was supported with a grant from Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.