The study revealed how DDT exposure contributes to Alzheimer’s disease risk
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) rolled out its 2022 Papers of the Year, and an FIU study led by researchers at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work came out on top.
Out of nearly 3,300 publications by NIEHS researchers and grantees in 2022, 32 made the cut and were included in the institute’s 2022 Papers of the Year round-up. Among the top three papers was an FIU-led study done in collaboration with Rutgers University that revealed a mechanism linking the pesticide DDT to Alzheimer’s disease.
Published in Environmental Health Perspectives, the study shows how the persistent environmental pollutant DDT causes increased amounts of toxic amyloid beta, which form the characteristic amyloid plaques found in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease.
According to Jason Richardson, professor at FIU’s Stempel College and corresponding author, the study further demonstrates that DDT is an environmental risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. In 2014, he led a team of scientists at Rutgers University, Emory University, and UT Southwestern Medical School who presented evidence linking DDT to the disease. Now, they have data demonstrating a mechanism that may explain the association.
“The vast majority of research on the disease has been on genetics—and genetics are very important—but the genes that actually cause the disease are very rare,” Richardson says. “Environmental risk factors like exposure to DDT are modifiable. So, if we understand how DDT affects the brain, then perhaps we could target those mechanisms and help the people who have been highly exposed.”
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Citation: Eid A, Mhatre-Winters I, Sammoura FM, Edler MK, von Stein R, Hossain MM, Han Y, Lisci M, Carney K, Konsolaki M, Hart RP, Bennett JW, Richardson JR. 2022. Effects of DDT on amyloid precursor protein levels and amyloid beta pathology: mechanistic links to Alzheimer’s disease risk. Environ Health Perspect 130(8):87005. (Synopsis)
Photo caption: Postdoctoral researcher Isha Mhatre-Winters reviewing with Jason Richardson, professor of Environmental Health Sciences, a poster on DDT exposure effects.