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Approved Research

Air pollution and Dementia: Exploring genetic, cardiovascular, and epigenetic moderators and mechanisms

Principal Investigator: Mr Otto-Emil Jutila
Approved Research ID: 87096
Approval date: February 16th 2023

Lay summary

Dementia is a growing public health crisis.  The genetic makeup of the individual can increase dementia risk and the environment can increase the risk of dementia. Air pollution is increasingly understood to have an impact on brain health. Prior studies investigating the relationship between air pollution and dementia often do not include the impact of an individual's genetic makeup on the relationship.  The individual's genetic risk to dementia could modify the effect of air pollution on dementia risk; genetic make-up may increase resilience or vulnerability to air pollution exposure.

Air pollution has been firmly established to be associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) which in turn can impact dementia, therefore CVD or related risk factors may mediate the association between air pollution and dementia.

Furthermore, air pollution may accelerate biological aging in the brain via telomere shortening and alteration of DNA methylation.

The overall aim of this project is to investigate the relationship between air pollution and different types of the risk of dementia and on cognitive decline. To determine if CVD mediates the relationship between air pollution and dementia.  To investigate the impact of genetics on the risk of air pollution on dementia. Furthermore, to determine the underlying disease mechanism between air pollution and dementia such as epigenetic changes and telomere length.

The duration of the project is part of my Ph.D. and will last 36 months.

A better understanding of the effect of air pollution on dementia risk could allow for improved public health interventions to lower the risk of dementia.