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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Brown: Exposure to Long Term Air Pollution Associated with Accelerated Cognitive Decline Amongst Carriers of Specific Gene APOE-e4 Carriers

Researchers at the Brown University School of Public Health have just published a study in Environment International that examined whether the association of exposure to air pollution and cognitive decline amongst older adults living in Manhattan, differed whether or not they had a specific genetic allele. The research was lead by Dr. Erin R. Kulick, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Epidemiology.

They examined data from the Washington Heights Inwood Community Aging Project (WHICAP) which is a prospective study of aging and dementia in people aged 65 and up. In this study, participants undergo neuropsychological testing every 18-24 months. 4821 participants were included in the study sample. Ambient air pollution levels from one year prior to enrollment in the study were matched to participants addresses to determine exposure.

They found that ambient air pollution was associated with faster cognitive decline in older adults, with stronger associations among those individuals who had at least one copy of the APOE-ε4 allele. They examined multiple pollutants and across multiple domains of cognitive performance and found this association was consistent. The authors suggest that further research should be done to determine what factors further affect this relationship between ambient air pollution and cognitive decline in older adults.

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