A recent investigation led by Florida International University scientists identifies a pathway connecting Alzheimer’s disease and the pesticide DDT.
The study, which was published in Environmental Health Perspectives, describes how elevated levels of toxic amyloid beta, which create the distinctive amyloid plaques seen in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, are brought on by the persistent environmental toxin DDT.
The research shows that DDT is an environmental risk factor for Alzheimer’s dementia, says Jason Richardson, a professor at FIU’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work and the study’s corresponding author. He oversaw a group of researchers from Rutgers University, Emory University, and UT Southwestern Medical School that presented data in 2014 demonstrating the connection between DDT and the illness. They now have evidence pointing to a potential mechanism to account for the association.
The majority of the disease’s genetic study has focused on rare genes, which Richardson thinks is unfortunate because rare genes have a big role in disease causation. Environmental risk factors, such as DDT exposure, are modifiable. In order to help, we might be able to target those pathways if we know how DDT impacts the brain.
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