Fine Particulate Matter, Residential Proximity to Major Roads, and Markers of Small Vessel Disease in a Memory Study Population

Elissa H. Wilker, Sergi Martinez-Ramirez, Itai Kloog, Joel Schwartz, Elizabeth Mostofsky, Petros Koutrakis, Murray A. Mittleman, Anand Viswanathan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background: Long-term exposure to ambient air pollution has been associated with impaired cognitive function and vascular disease in older adults, but little is known about these associations among people with concerns about memory loss. Objective: To examine associations between exposures to fine particulate matter and residential proximity to major roads and markers of small vessel disease. Methods: From 20042010, 236 participants in the Massachusetts Alzheimer's Disease Research Center Longitudinal Cohort participated in neuroimaging studies. Residential proximity to major roads and estimated 2003 residential annual average of fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) were linked to measures of brain parenchymal fraction (BPF), white matter hyperintensities (WMH), and cerebral microbleeds. Associations were modeled using linear and logistic regression and adjusted for clinical and lifestyle factors. Results: In this population (median age [interquartile range]=74 [12], 57 female) living in a region with median 2003 PM2.5 annual average below the current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard, there were no associations between living closer to a major roadway or for a 2μg/m3 increment in PM2.5 and smaller BPF, greater WMH volume, or a higher odds of microbleeds. However, a 2μg/m3 increment in PM2.5 was associated with 0.19 (95 Confidence Interval (CI): 0.37, 0.005) lower natural log-transformed WMH volume. Other associations had wide confidence intervals. Conclusions: In this population, where median 2003 estimated PM2.5 levels were below the current EPA standard, we observed no pattern of association between residential proximity to major roads or 2003 average PM2.5 and greater burden of small vessel disease or neurodegeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1315-1323
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Air pollution
  • Microbleeds
  • Small vessel disease
  • White matter hyperintensities


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