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Relationship between degradation products of insect venom and the occurrence of Alzheimer's
The causes of Alzheimer's have not yet been fully understood, but it is assumed that a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors forms the basis of the disease. Now US scientists have published a study in the journal "JAMA Neurology", which comes to the conclusion that the residues of the pesticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) can apparently play a decisive role here.
Although the use of DDT is now banned almost everywhere in the world, long-lived degradation products of the pesticide can still be found in the bodies of many people, reports the research team led by Jason Richardson from the Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (New Jersey). Significantly increased concentrations of these breakdown products (dichlorodiphenyldichloroethene; DDE) had already been detected in previous studies in Alzheimer's patients. The US scientists have now checked the previous results on a larger sample and found increased DDE concentrations in the blood of Alzheimer's patients. This suggests that there is a connection, Richardson and colleagues write.
DDT degradation product in the brain of Alzheimer's patients For decades, DDT was the most widely used insecticide worldwide before the realization that the environmental and health damage was unsustainable. In particular, the fact that DDT is extremely difficult to degrade and accumulates in the environment in the long term, but also in the organism of humans and animals, has led to a ban in most countries worldwide since the 1970s. Nevertheless, decomposition products of insect venom can still be found in the bodies of many people. Richardson and colleagues found a significantly higher DDE concentration when examining the blood values of 86 Alzheimer's patients over the age of 60. A comparison with 79 healthy volunteers showed that the DDE concentration in Alzheimer's patients was on average 3.8 times higher. This suggests that there is a connection here. Tests of brain function would also have shown that it decreases significantly with increasing DDE concentration.
Environmental risk factor identified for Alzheimer's The researchers also examined how DDT and its breakdown products can influence the development of Alzheimer's disease. In experiments with cell cultures, they found that DDT and DDE promote the production of proteins that form a precursor of the protein beta-amyloid, which in turn is increasingly found as a deposit in the brain of Alzheimer's patients and with the development of the neurodegenerative disease in Is connected. Although the size of the sample is still too small to establish a clear connection, the US researchers believe that an environmental risk factor for Alzheimer's has been identified here. It is also conceivable that the insect venom also plays a role in the development of other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease.
Long-term consequences of the use of pesticides can hardly be estimated Ultimately, the study again confirms the danger of the insecticide DDT and makes it clear that the long-term consequences of the introduction of such toxins into the environment can hardly be estimated. While DDT was still hailed by many farmers as a good way to increase yields when it was introduced, most of them are sobering today because of the negative effects on humans and animals. But new means are moving in and over and over again a resourceful company discovers supposed miracle weapons against insects and weeds. We would like to remind you of the discussions about genetically modified potatoes and soy plants, which were developed to be particularly resistant to special pesticides and herbicides. The aim is to continue to use the appropriate toxins without damaging the crops. The long-term consequences remain difficult to estimate. (fp)