Lead exposure can be a risk factor for Alzheimer, says study

New Delhi [India], Jan 13 (ANI): A team led by a scientist from the Indian Council of Medical Research - National Institute of Nutrition (ICMR-NIN) have established a role of lead as a risk factor in the development of neurodegenerative diseases.

A joint study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Nutrition has now established the possible link between lead exposure and Alzheimer's disease.

As of 2015, there are 4.4 million people in India living with Alzheimer's disease which is likely to be double by 2030, stated an international medical journal.

Dr Suresh Challa from ICMR, senior scientist, said, "Alzheimer's disease has complex pathophysiology which involves initially; formation of beta-amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain. In addition, oxidative stress and inflammation are known to be involved in the progression of the disease, with loss of memory and neuronal cell death. In this scenario, our study investigated the basic molecular mechanism behind the involvement of 'lead' in Alzheimer's disease."

"Our study showed increased cell death and increased levels of pro-apoptotic marker proteins. Further, the proteins involved in neurodevelopment and regeneration have depleted. Such effects led to decreased expression levels of synaptophysin, finally leading to loss of memory as in Alzheimer's disease," said Dr Challa.

Dr. R Hemalatha, Director, ICMR-NIN said that maternal exposure to lead during pregnancy can cause developmental reprogramming which can lead to higher risk and early onset of Alzheimer's disease in later life of the child.

Speaking about the research, she said, "Such finding is also helpful in developing preventive and management strategies for elderly." (ANI)