Autopsies of people ranged in age 11 months to 40 years have revealed traces of two abnormal proteins that are linked to early Alzheimer's disease and a higher risk of suicide.
Researchers from the University of Montana say that ambient air pollution and harmful particulate pollution levels are detrimental, not just to the physical well-being of millions of Americans but also to their mental health. Particularly, they conclude that particles in pollutions may cause early Alzheimer's disease and may trigger suicidal thoughts among the youths.
To arrive at their conclusion, the researchers analyze the autopsies of Mexico City residents ranged in age 11 months to 40 years. The Metropolitan is known to have concentrations of fine pollution particulate matter that go beyond the levels set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Scientists Find Alzheimer's Disease In Babies
The group of researchers, headed by Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, examined 203 autopsies and found traces of APOE 4, an identified genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. Consequently, the researchers found hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease among 99.5 percent of the autopsies they analyzed.
What's more is that they detected the disease at early stages in the brains of babies that are less than a year old. Researchers also added that detection of APOE 4 is particularly striking, as carriers of the gene have higher odds of committing suicide.
There were also heightened levels of two abnormal proteins in the subjects' brains. These proteins are identified as hyperphosphorylated tau and beta-amyloid. The latter is the known plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.
The aforementioned finding is correlated with the exposure of the brain to fine particulate matter pollution. These particles are smaller than the diameter of a human hair but frequently caused haze in the cities. With this minute size, they can enter the brain through the nose, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract.
Early Medical Interventions For Alzheimer's Disease
There are studies proving that Alzheimer's disease can affect people younger than 65. It is known as early-onset or younger-onset Alzheimer disease as described byJohns Hopkins Medicine. However, available information on early-onset only mentioned about affecting people in their 30s or 40s.
The study conducted by Calderón-Garcidueñas and her team suggests that Alzheimer's can start in early childhood.
"Alzheimer's disease hallmarks start in childhood in polluted environments, and we must implement effective preventative measures early," says Calderón-Garcidueñas, physician and Ph.D. toxicologist at UM's Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
"It is useless to take reactive actions decades later," she writes in the study published in Journal of Environmental Research.