Friday, June 30, 2017
Rutgers Study Suggests New Biomarker for Alzheimer’s Induced by DDT Pesticide Exposure
[Photo: Mr. Héctor Maldonado-Pérez]
A Rutgers School of Public Health study conducted by alumnus, Mr. Héctor Maldonado-Pérez MPH’16, and faculty, found that DDT Pesticide exposure may influence Alzheimer’s Disease onset. There are many subtypes of dementia, but Alzheimer’s Disease continues to be the most common worldwide. The cause of Alzheimer’s Disease is not fully understood, however, genetic markers, such as the APOE4 allele, have been identified as potential biomarkers for the disease. The significance of the APOE4 allele’s presence varies by race. The presence of APOE4 is a better indicator of Alzheimer’s Disease in White individuals than in Hispanic or African American individuals.
Alzheimer’s Disease is more common in Hispanic and African American individuals, thus, there is a need to identify other biomarkers that impact Alzheimer’s Disease onset in susceptible populations.
The lead author of the study, Mr. Héctor Maldonado-Pérez, a Rutgers School of Public Health alumnus, worked with Rutgers School of Public Health faculty, Dr. Judith Graber and Dr. Mark Robson, to study the role of DDT pesticide exposure on Alzheimer’s Disease. Research suggests that Alzheimer’s Disease pathogenesis is dependent on the formation of senile plaques in the brain, therefore Mr. Maldonado-Pérez aimed to study cytokines that may be associated with senile plaque formation. The researchers exposed mice to DDT pesticide and examined the hippocampus tissues of the animals’ brain. They found that DDT pesticide exposure in mice, causes an acute immune response that serves as a biomarker for Alzheimer’s Disease.
According to Mr. Maldonado-Perez, “although we haven’t proposed a cause for Alzheimer’s Disease, our data serves as a framework that indicates that there are gaps in the literature, which do not take into account the impact of immune response on Alzheimer’s Disease.”
This research was conducted as part of Mr. Maldonado-Pérez’ culminating MPH fieldwork project in conjunction with Drs. Graber and Robson. On his experience conducting the research, Mr. Maldonado-Pérez reflects “I had the liberty and freedom to think critically, but I always knew I had their expert knowledge to guide me whenever I faced a difficulty in my study design or implementation. Their support and patience truly made my success possible and it guided my interest to further continue my education.”
Mr. Héctor Maldonado-Pérez is currently pursuing a PhD in Population Health Science at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. His current work focuses on the potential role of heavy metals on lung cancer, focusing on the epigenetic factors that impact the onset and progression of the disease. There is evidence that occupational exposures to heavy metals could be associated with lung cancer, however, the etiology is not fully understood. In part, this may be due to the fact that cancer can be influenced by environmental stressors, and not only by genetic mutations, as it is often traditionally viewed.
Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by ASSOCIATIONOFSCHOOLS&PROGRAMSOFPUBLICHEALTH
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