Air pollution is known to increase the likelihood of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. However, the exact mechanism involved in this relationship remains poorly understood.

Diesel exhaust particles stand out as a prominent air pollutant with proven human carcinogenic properties, posing significant health risks, especially in the context of neurodegenerative diseases.

Nivedita Chatterjee, a researcher from the Nanosafety research group at INL, is studying how diesel exhaust particles affect neurodegeneration, i.e. the slow and progressive loss of neurons. The INL team found that exposure to diesel exhaust particles causes significant neuro-behavioural alterations.

Ernesto Alfaro-Moreno, Nanofatey research group leader explains that “this research work was developed under the project iCare – one of the objectives of this EU-funded project is to develop an integrated model system that can characterise and predict the potential impact of nanomaterials on brain health, thereby preventing nanomaterials toxicity”.

Nivedita adds “to establish these models, we use Caenorhabditis elegans, often referred to as C. elegans, which is a very small and transparent roundworm that has been extensively studied in the field of biology. The knowledge gained from these studies on C. elegans often has broader implications for understanding more complex organisms, including humans.”

The iCare project is funded by the European Commission under the HORIZON-CL4-2022-DIGITAL-EMERGING-01.