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Association of Air Pollution and Blood-Based Biomarkers of Brain Degeneration

DeHaven, Wesley (2022) Association of Air Pollution and Blood-Based Biomarkers of Brain Degeneration. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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Introduction: Air pollution contributes to poorer brain health and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) incidence although the biological mechanisms remain unclear. The aim of these analyses is to evaluate the association between air pollutants (Particulate Matter (PM10), Ozone (O3,), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)) and biomarkers related to AD and brain degeneration (Neurofilament Light Chain (NfL), Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP), Ubiquitin C-Terminal Hydrolase L1 (UCH-L1)).
Methods: The sample included a total of 1606 adults aged 65 and older from biomarker and air pollution ancillary studies conducted through the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS). 24-hour annual pollutant (PM10, O3, CO, NO2, SO2) averages were measured over 12 years (1989-2000). Biomarkers (NfL, GFAP, UCH-L1, Total Tau) were measured at year 9 of the study (1997) by a Quanterix neuro multiples panel. 24-hour annual averages were averaged over 5 years (1993-1997), beginning with supplemental CHS recruitment until the year of biomarker data collection. Bivariate analyses used Pearson or Spearman correlations and t tests or ANOVA to compare covariates (gender, race, education, and smoking status) and air pollutants with the biomarkers. Separate linear regression models were fit to estimate associations between air pollutants and biomarkers with adjustment for covariates.
Results: The sample included participants who were 77.8 years±4.49 of age, mostly females (60.5%), and mostly White individuals (81.6%). On average, participants had good cognitive function (Modified Mini-Mental State Exam=92.4±8.87). After adjustment for covariates, there was a significant association of PM10, O3, NO2, SO2 with GFAP and of O3 and NO2 with NfL. In sensitivity analyses, outliers were excluded resulting in significant associations of PM10, O3, and SO2 with NfL. No other results were meaningfully changed.
Conclusion: In adults aged 65 and older, long term air pollutant exposure was significantly associated with higher levels of degeneration biomarkers. The association may provide evidence that AD may be in the early stages, as higher levels of NfL precede the first clinical manifestations of AD, and GFAP has been associated with AD pathology. Further research could raise awareness on AD and the current public health relevance of air pollution and its disproportional health disparities from exposure.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
DeHaven, Wesleywmd12@pitt.eduwmd12
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairRosso, Andreaalr143@pitt.edualr143UNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberTalbott, Evelyneot1@pitt.edueot1UNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberPascoal, Tharickpascoal@pitt.edupascoalUNSPECIFIED
Date: 12 May 2022
Date Type: Completion
Number of Pages: 50
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Epidemiology
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: air pollution, brain health, degeneration, Alzheimer's, biomarkers
Date Deposited: 12 May 2022 17:21
Last Modified: 12 May 2022 17:21


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