The association of long-term exposure to criteria air pollutants, fine particulate matter components, and airborne trace metals with late-life brain amyloid burden in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Studies suggest associations between long-term ambient air pollution exposure and outcomes related to Alzheimer's disease (AD). Whether a link exists between pollutants and brain amyloid accumulation, a biomarker of AD, is unclear. We assessed whether long-term air pollutant exposures are associated with late-life brain amyloid deposition in Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study participants. METHODS: We used a chemical transport model with data fusion to estimate ambient concentrations of PM2.5 and its components, NO2, NOx, O3 (24-hour and 8-hour), CO, and airborne trace metals. We linked concentrations to geocoded participant addresses and calculated 10-year mean exposures (2002 to 2011). Brain amyloid deposition was measured using florbetapir amyloid positron emission tomography (PET) scans in 346 participants without dementia in 2012-2014, and we defined amyloid positivity as a global cortical standardized uptake value ratiothe sample median of 1.2. We used logistic regression models to quantify the association between amyloid positivity and each air pollutant, adjusting for putative confounders. In sensitivity analyses, we considered whether use of alternate air pollution estimation approaches impacted findings for PM2.5, NO2, NOx, and 24-hour O3. RESULTS: At PET imaging, eligible participants (N=318) had a mean age of 78years, 56% were female, 43% were Black, and 27% had mild cognitive impairment. We did not find evidence of associations between long-term exposure to any pollutant and brain amyloid positivity in adjusted models. Findings were materially unchanged in sensitivity analyses using alternate air pollution estimation approaches for PM2.5, NO2, NOx, and 24-hour O3. CONCLUSIONS: Air pollution may impact cognition and dementia independent of amyloid accumulation, though whether air pollution influences AD pathogenesis later in the disease course or at higher exposure levels deserves further consideration.

published proceedings

  • Environ Int

altmetric score

  • 2

author list (cited authors)

  • Bennett, E. E., Song, Z., Lynch, K. M., Liu, C., Stapp, E. K., Xu, X., ... Power, M. C.

citation count

  • 1

publication date

  • October 2023