Project: From air pollution to brain pollution – novel biomarkers to unravel the link of air pollution and Alzheimer’s disease

Acronym ADAIR (Reference Number: JPND2019-466-037)
Project Topic Despite decades of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research, the real molecular pathophysiology of the disease is still poorly understood, and treatments remain inadequate. Remarkably little attention is paid to the involvement of environmental factors, which are known from epidemiological studies to strongly impact AD development. Air pollution, a massive public health issue known to pose a major threat to human health, is an important, ever-increasing global concern. A growing body of evidence from epidemiological and controlled animal studies shows that exposure to air pollutants also impairs the brain. Furthermore, living in highly polluted areas is associated exacerbated cognitive dysfunction and AD. Many questions remain unanswered as mechanistic information on air pollutant effects on the brain is scarce. Importantly, biomarkers for air pollution and AD risk prediction do not currently exist, thus hindering the identification and stratification of individuals at risk for harmful air pollution effects. Drawing upon a unique combination of expertise and state-of-the-art methods and tools in neurobiology, epidemiology, clinical science, environmental science and data science, the ADAIR consortium is uniquely placed to, for the first time, provide crucial mechanistic insight about the effects of air pollutants on the brain in humans and discover biomarkers for air pollution and AD risk prediction. ADAIR applies a precision medicine approach to stratify individuals to subgroups for risk estimation and future AD prevention, ultimately aiming to target air pollution induced effects in those individuals that can most benefit from them. The project investigates the novel, ambitious hypothesis that the pollutant exposure environment of an individual alters cellular mechanisms and functions, resulting in the expression of measurable biomarkers. By identifying biomarkers, the individuals with increased AD risk can be stratified prior to the disease onset and preventive measures can be targeted to the specific at-risk populations in order to be most effective. ADAIR address a major societal challenge with wide health-related, environmental, economic, scientific, social, and political impact. Lowering the burden of AD attributable to air pollution and contribution to the mitigation of climate change, are closely linked. The ultimate goal is to develop strategies for early identification of people at risk of AD, and to discover novel targets for preventive strategies to reduce the health care and socio-economic burden of AD.

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 University of Eastern Finland Coordinator Finland
2 University of Verona Partner Italy
3 Erasmus University Medical Center Partner Netherlands
4 University of Eastern Finland Partner Finland
5 University of Umeå Partner Sweden
6 University of Umeå Partner Sweden
7 Ústav experimentalni mediciny Akademie ved Ceske republiky verejna vyzkumna instituce Partner Czech Republic
8 BioTalentum Ltd Partner Hungary