Alzheimer Disease and Elevated Pesticide DDT Levels

Jason R. Richardson MS, PhD Associate Professor Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Resident Member Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute Piscataway, NJ 0885MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jason R. Richardson MS, PhD, Associate Professor
Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and
Resident Member
Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute
Piscataway, NJ 08854

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Richardson: We had 3 main findings in our study.

  • First, Alzheimer Disease patients had almost 4 times the levels of serum DDE when compared to controls.
  • Second, those carrying APOE4, which is a strong risk factor for AD, had much worse cognitive function when they also had high DDE levels. I should not that “high” DDE levels are relative. The levels we observed are consistent with the highest levels in the general population of the US.
  • Third, we found that exposure to cells to DDT and DDE levels similar to those found in the serum of people living near contaminated sites increased levels of a protein that contributes to amyloid plaques in Alzheimer Disease.

MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Richardson: The higher levels observed in Alzheimer Disease had previously been reported by our group in a small number of patients in a previous study (Richardson et al., 2009). This study was designed to replicate those findings in a larger cohort and from two independent sites (UTSW and Emory).

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Richardson: For research clinicians, I hope they take away that environmental factors are important along with genetic factors. For clinicians and current patients, it is unfortunate that our study does not provide immediate help or relief. We do hope that our work will spur additional research on environmental factors in Alzheimer Disease and, if our studies are expanded and replicated, our data might provide a means for identifying people that may be at risk of developing Alzheimer Disease in the future.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Richardson: First, we hope to replicate our findings in a much larger number of patients and in additional cohorts. We hope that others will replicate these findings as well. Second, there is a need for more mechanistic research to understand how DDT/DDE contributes to Alzheimer Disease. Finally, we also need to understand who might be more at risk for the untoward effects of DDT/DDE. For example, what genetic variants might make someone more sensitive or not excrete the chemicals as well.

Citation:

DDT in Blood Associated with Increased Alzheimer Risk

Jason R. Richardson PhD, Ananya Roy ScD, Stuart L. Shalat ScD, Richard T. von Stein PhD, Muhammad M. Hossain PhD, Brian Buckley PhD, Marla Gearing PhD, Allan I. Levey MD, PhD, Dwight C. German PhD

JAMA Neurol. 2014;71(3):-. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.6030

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