Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediate stage of cognitive decline between normal ageing and dementia or Alzheimer's disease in the elderly. However, evidence is very limited in China for the association between air pollution and MCI. This study aims to examine the associations of long-term exposure to air pollution and MCI, using data from the Chinese Veteran Clinical Research Platform. A national investigation on mental health of veterans was conducted in 277 veteran communities in 18 cities across China. In total, 1,861 MCI cases and 3,188 controls were randomly selected using a stratified cluster sampling strategy from December 2009 to December 2011. Participants' cognitive function was first assessed using the Mini Mental State Examination and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment in the Chinese version, and then further confirmed by clinical examination. Participants' mean exposures to PM1 (particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤1 μm) and NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) during the 3 years before the investigation were estimated using satellite remote sensing data, meteorological variables and land use information. The association between historical exposure to air pollution and MCI was examined using Logistic regression. After controlling for individual-level and regional-level confounders, we found historical exposures to PM1 and NO2 significantly increased the risk of MCI. The odds ratios (ORs associated with per 10 μg m-3 increase in air pollution) and 95% confidence intervals for PM1 and NO2 were 1.08 (1.04, 1.13) and 1.07 (1.02, 1.13), respectively. In the multi-pollutant models, higher OR for PM1 while lower OR for NO2 were observed compared to single-pollutant models. High levels of PM1 and NO2 pollution significantly increased the risk of cognitive decline among male veterans in China. Given the causal air pollution-MCI relationship, good air quality may help to reduce the burden of mental disorders among elderly veterans in China.
- Air pollution
- Mild cognitive impairment