Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

New study to analyse the effects of diesel fumes on dementia development

Published: 14 June 2019
MRI brain X-ray

Southampton researchers are to take part in an international consortium that will study the effects of traffic related ultrafine or nanoparticles on brain health.

Professor Roxana Carare will lead the Southampton part of the Transport derived Ultrafines and the Brain Effects’ (TUBE) consortium, which is being funded with a €5million grant from The European Commission.

Dementia is the loss of mental ability due to the gradual death of brain cells. Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia and is estimated to affect about 150,000 people in the UK, accounting for almost 20 per cent of all dementia cases.

It is caused by problems with the small vessels of the brain. These vessels have two functions: to supply blood to the brain and to remove toxic waste. The removal of waste is along tiny pathways called basement membranes that are extremely thin: a millionth of the thickness of one human hair.

Professor Carare’s group was the first to demonstrate that tiny channels within the walls of cerebral blood vessels serve as conduits for the elimination of waste from the brain.

The Southampton TUBE study will analyse the effects of diesel pollution on the capacity of the brain to eliminate waste and therefore accelerate the process of developing dementia.

Professor Carare said: “We are delighted to be part of this international consortium that is working together to further our understanding of what environmental factors impact our brain health.

“The small vessels in the brain (basement membranes) have a very important job in taking waste away from the brain. The failure in this system designed for eliminating waste may lead to vascular dementia, a devastating condition that can affects a lot of people.

“Understanding the effects of pollution on these pathways and whether the elimination of waste from the brain is impacted upon by diesel exhaust fumes, is incredibly important in our ongoing work to help people with this disease.”

Privacy Settings