wellbeing news

Memory degradation and brain loss due to air pollution

How polluted air damages our brains

When older women are exposed to increased air pollution, it is associated with a sudden memory decline and brain atrophy like Alzheimer's disease. That's the conclusion of the US research team.

Recent research at the University of Southern California has found that air pollution in older women contributes to memory loss and gradual loss of cerebral matter. The results of the study were published in the journal "Brain" in English.

Older women suffer from brain loss of air pollution

Women between the ages of 73 and 87 are at greater risk of memory loss and loss of brain tissue due to increased air pollution compared to women who breathe clean air.

There is no cure for Alzheimer's

The results of the study may influence the prevention of Alzheimer's disease by reducing the risk in the future and suggest a possible mechanism of the disease. There is currently no effective treatment or cure for Alzheimer's disease.

Air pollution changes people's brains

"This is the first study to actually show in the statistical model that air pollution is related to changes in the brain of humans and that these changes are then associated with memory decline," said study author Andrew Petkus of the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in a statement. public.

Developing new treatment options in sight

"We hope that by better understanding the underlying brain changes caused by air pollution, researchers will be able to develop interventions that help people with or without cognitive decline," the expert adds.

Particle Danger PM2.5

The smallest particles, also called PM2.5 particles, are about 1/30 times the diameter of human hair. The particles are from flue gas, smoke and dust. Their small size allows the particles to remain in the air for a long time. This allows them to enter buildings and breathe easily and thus reach the brain and accumulate there.

Effects of PM2.5 Particle Exposure

Contamination with these particles is associated with asthma, cardiovascular disease, lung disease and premature death. Previous studies have already shown that particle exposure also increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease and associated dementia.

Data on just under 1,000 women

For the current study, the researchers analyzed data from 998 women, aged 73-87, who participated in two brain studies at five-year intervals as part of a women's health initiative. Launched in 1993 by the National Institutes of Health, the Women's Health Initiative included more than 160,000 women who answered questions about heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.

Artificial intelligence should recognize existing patterns

Brain scans in women were evaluated based on their similarity to patterns of Alzheimer's disease using a machine learning tool previously trained to scan the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.

How is the particle load estimated?

The researchers also analyzed information on where 998 women lived and environmental data from these sites to evaluate their exposure to the particles. When all available information was combined and evaluated, the researchers found a link between increased levels of pollution, changes in the brain and memory problems.

More research is needed

The results lasted even after adjusting for differences in income, education, geography, smoking and other factors. The current study helps to better understand Alzheimer's disease because it identified some changes in the brain that link air pollution and memory loss. (As)


  • Diana Younan, Andrew J Petkus, Keith F Widaman, Xinhui Wang, Ramon Casanova et al .: Particles and episodic memory mediated by early neuroanatomical biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease, brain (request: 11/21/2019), brain
  • USC study links air pollution, memory problems and Alzheimer's brain changes, University of Southern California (Inquiry: 11/21/2019), University of Southern California

Important note:
This article contains general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment alone. It cannot replace a doctor's visit.