Traffic-Related Air Pollution as a Risk Factor for Dementia: No Clear Modifying Effects of APOEɛ4 in the Betula Cohort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


It is widely known that the apolipoprotein E (APOE) ɛ4 allele imposes a higher risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Recent evidence suggests that exposure to air pollution is also a risk factor for AD, and results from a few studies indicate that the effect of air pollution on cognitive function and dementia is stronger in APOEɛ4 carriers than in non-carriers. Air pollution and interaction with APOEɛ4 on AD risk thus merits further attention. We studied dementia incidence over a 15-year period from the longitudinal Betula study in Northern Sweden. As a marker for long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution, we used modelled annual mean nitrogen oxide levels at the residential address of the participants at start of follow-up. Nitrogen oxide correlate well with fine particulate air pollution levels in the study area. We had full data on air pollution, incidence of AD and vascular dementia (VaD), APOEɛ4 carrier status, and relevant confounding factors for 1,567 participants. As expected, air pollution was rather clearly associated with dementia incidence. However, there was no evidence for a modifying effect by APOEɛ4 on the association (p-value for interaction > 0.30 for both total dementia (AD+VaD) and AD). The results from this study do not imply that adverse effects of air pollution on dementia incidence is limited to, or stronger in, APOEɛ4 carriers than in the total population.


External organisations
  • Umeå University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
  • Geriatrics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-740
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Oct 1
Publication categoryResearch