Youth in pol­luted cities at in­creased RISK OF ALZHEIMER’S

Millennium Post - - AROUND TOWN -

Chil­dren and young adults liv­ing in pol­luted megac­i­ties are at in­creased risk of de­vel­op­ing Alzheimer’s, a de­bil­i­tat­ing brain dis­ease char­ac­terised by mem­ory loss, a new study has warned.

“Alzheimer’s dis­ease hall­marks start in child­hood in pol­luted en­vi­ron­ments, and we must im­ple­ment ef­fec­tive pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures early,” said one of the re­searchers Lil­ian Calderon-gar­cidue­nas from Univer­sity of Mon­tana in the US.

“It is use­less to take re­ac­tive ac­tions decades later,” Calderon-gar­cidue­nas said.

The find­ings, pub­lished in the Jour­nal of En­vi­ron­men­tal Re­search, in­di­cate that Alzheimer’s starts in early child­hood, and the dis­ease pro­gres­sion re­lates to age, pol­lu­tion ex­po­sure and sta­tus of Apolipopro­tein E (APOE 4), a well-known ge­netic risk fac­tor for Alzheimer’s.

The re­searchers stud­ied 203 au­top­sies of Mex­ico City res­i­dents in the US rang­ing in age from 11 months to 40 years.

Met­ro­pol­i­tan Mex­ico City is home to 24 mil­lion peo­ple ex­posed daily to con­cen­tra­tions of fine par­tic­u­late mat­ter and ozone above US En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency stan­dards.

The re­searchers tracked two ab­nor­mal pro­teins that in­di­cate de­vel­op­ment of Alzheimer’s, and they de­tected the early stages of the dis­ease in ba­bies less than a year old.

The sci­en­tists found height­ened lev­els of the two ab­nor­mal pro­teins – hy­per­phos­pho­ry­lated tau and beta amy­loid – in the brains of young ur­ban­ites with life­time ex­po­sures to fine-par­tic­u­late-mat­ter pol- lu­tion (PM2.5).

They also tracked APOE 4 as well as life­time cu­mu­la­tive ex­po­sure to un­healthy lev­els of PM2.5 – par­ti­cles which are at least 30 times smaller than the di­am­e­ter of a hu­man hair and fre­quently cause the haze over ur­ban ar­eas.

The re­searchers found hall­marks of the dis­ease among 99.5 per­cent of the au­top­sies they ex­am­ined in Mex­ico City.

In ad­di­tion, the find­ings showed that APOE 4 car­ri­ers had a higher risk of rapid pro­gres­sion of Alzheimer’s.

The re­searchers be­lieve the detri­men­tal ef­fects are caused by tiny pol­lu­tion par­ti­cles that en­ter the brain through the nose, lungs and gas­troin­testi­nal tract, and these par­ti­cles dam­age all bar­ri­ers and travel ev­ery­where in the body through the cir­cu­la­tory sys­tem.

The au­thors noted that am­bi­ent air pol­lu­tion is a key mod­i­fi­able risk for mil­lions of peo­ple across the globe.

“Neu­ro­pro­tec­tion mea­sures ought to start very early, in­clud­ing the pre­na­tal pe­riod and child­hood,” Calderon-gar­cidue­nas said. “Defin­ing pe­di­atric en­vi­ron­men­tal, nu­tri­tional, meta­bolic and ge­netic risk-fac­tor in­ter­ac­tions are key to pre­vent­ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease,” she added.

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