The polluted brain - how air pollution affects our brain

Abstract: The polluted brain - how air pollution affects our brainAmbient outdoor air pollution is ubiquitous and is recognised as a major global public health problem, both in developed and developing countries

Epidemiological studies have linked air pollution exposure mostly to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. However, there is growing evidence that exposure to air pollution adversely affects neurocognitive function. Fine and ultrafine particulate matter pose a special interest for the brain effects given the capability of very small particles to reach the brain. There is little known about the underlying mechanisms and pathways and two potential pathways have been hypothesized: either over the lung via the blood-brain barrier or via the bulbus olfactorius. This presentation will give an overview of the evidence on air pollution-induced cognitive decline in the elderly. Further, using data from the longitudinal SALIA study (Study on the effect of air pollution on lung function, inflammation and aging), potential pathways will be discussed.

Biography: Dr Tamara Schikowski

IUF-Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine, Düsseldorf, Germany

Tamara Schikowski is the head of the research group on ‘Environmental epidemiology of lung, brain and skin aging’ at the IUF in Duesseldorf. She obtained her PhD in Public Health at the Medical Faculty of the Heinrich-Heine University in Duessedorf, Germany in 2008 and her Master of Public Health and Epidemiology at the Monash University in Melbourne in 2004. Subsequently, she worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) in Barcelona and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel.

Her main research is directed at the understanding how long-term exposure to air pollution and other environmental influences can cause diseases in populations, in particular in the elderly. In this context, she has authored over 60 peer-reviewed publications, reviews and book chapters. She is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health as well as of the review board of Environmental Perspectives.

Research interests: Air pollution and human health, global climate change and human health, healthy aging.