Alzheimer disease starts in childhood in polluted Metropolitan Mexico City. A major health crisis in progress

Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, Ricardo Torres-Jardón, Randy J. Kulesza, Yusra Mansour, Luis Oscar González-González, Angélica Gónzalez-Maciel, Rafael Reynoso-Robles, Partha S. Mukherjee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Exposures to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone (O3) above USEPA standards are associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) risk. Metropolitan Mexico City (MMC) youth have life time exposures to PM2.5 and O3 above standards. We focused on MMC residents ≤30 years and reviewed 134 consecutive autopsies of subjects age 20.03 ± 6.38 y (range 11 months to 30 y), the staging of Htau and ß amyloid, the lifetime cumulative PM2.5 (CPM 2.5) and the impact of the Apolipoprotein E (APOE) 4 allele, the most prevalent genetic risk for AD. We also reviewed the results of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and the brainstem auditory evoked potentials (BAEPs) in clinically healthy young cohorts. Mobile sources, particularly from non-regulated diesel vehicles dominate the MMC pollutant emissions exposing the population to PM2.5 concentrations above WHO and EPA standards. Iron-rich,magnetic, highly oxidative, combustion and friction-derived nanoparticles (CFDNPs) are measured in the brain of every MMC resident. Progressive development of Alzheimer starts in childhood and in 99.25% of 134 consecutive autopsies ≤30 years we can stage the disease and its progression; 66% of ≤30 years urbanites have cognitive impairment and involvement of the brainstem is reflected by auditory central dysfunction in every subject studied. The average age for dementia using MoCA is 20.6 ± 3.4 y. APOE4 vs 3 carriers have 1.26 higher odds of committing suicide. PM2.5 and CFDNPs play a key role in the development of neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration in young urbanites. A serious health crisis is in progress with social, educational, judicial, economic and overall negative health impact for 25 million residents. Understanding the neural circuitry associated with the earliest cognitive and behavioral manifestations of AD is needed. Air pollution control should be prioritised-including the regulation of diesel vehicles- and the first two decades of life ought to be targeted for neuroprotective interventions. Defining paediatric environmental, nutritional, metabolic and genetic risk factor interactions is a multidisciplinary task of paramount importance to prevent Alzheimer's disease. Current and future generations are at risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109137
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • APOE4
  • Alzheimer
  • Brainstem
  • Children
  • Combustion-derived nanoparticles
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Hyperphosphorylated tau
  • MCI
  • Metals
  • Mexico city
  • PM
  • Suicide
  • Violence
  • Young adults


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