Climate change and neurodegenerative diseases

Could these diseases be contributing to the climate crisis?

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Climate change and neurodegenerative diseases

Neurodegenerative diseases are a variegated set of diseases of the central nervous system, united by a chronic and selective process of cell death of neurons. Depending on the type of disease, neuronal deterioration can lead to cognitive deficits, dementia, motor impairments, behavioral and psychological disturbances.

Could these diseases be contributing to the climate crisis? Climate is the average state of atmospheric weather at a given time scale (at least 30 years) and many factors influence it; consequently, variations in the latter cause climatic changes: variations in solar activity, in atmospheric composition, in the arrangement of continents, in ocean currents or in the Earth's orbit can modify the distribution of energy and the terrestrial radiation balance, alternating so does the planetary climate.

These influences can be classified into external and internal to the Earth. The external ones are also called forcing as they normally carry out a systematic action on the climate, although there are phenomena of a random type such as meteoritic impacts.

The anthropic influence on the climate in many cases is considered an external forcing as its influence is more systematic than chaotic, but it is also certain that man belongs to the terrestrial biosphere and can therefore be considered an internal influence according to which criterion it is applied.

The study: Climate change and neurodegenerative diseases, published on the Environmental research, analyzes: "The climate change induced global warming, and in particular the increased frequency and intensity of heat waves, have been linked to health problems.

Among them, scientific works have been reporting an increased incidence of neurological diseases, encompassing also neurodegenerative ones, such as Dementia of Alzheimer's type, Parkinson's Disease, and Motor Neuron Diseases.

Although the increase in prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases is well documented by literature reports, the link between global warming and the enhanced prevalence of such diseases remains elusive. This is the main theme of our work, which aims to examine the connection between high temperature exposure and neurodegenerative diseases.

Firstly, we evaluate the influence of high temperatures exposure on the pathophysiology of these disorders. Secondly , we discuss its effects on the thermoregulation, alrea dy compromised in affected patients, and its interference with processes of excitotoxicity, oxidative stress and neuroinflammation, all of them related with neurodegeneration.

Finally, we investigate chronic versus acute stressors on body warming, and put forward a possible interpretation of the beneficial or detrimental effects on the brain, which is responsible for the incidence or progression of neurological disorders."