Pesticides are widely-used chemicals commonly applied in agriculture for the protection of crops from pests. Depending on the class of pesticides, the specific substances may have a specific set of adverse effects on humans, especially in cases of acute poisoning. In past years, evidence regarding sequelae of chronic, low-level exposure has been accumulating. Cognitive impairment and dementia heavily affect a person's quality of life and scientific data has been hinting towards an association between them and antecedent chronic pesticide exposure. Here, we reviewed animal and human studies exploring the association between pesticide exposure, cognition and dementia. Additionally, we present potential mechanisms through which pesticides may act neurotoxically and lead to neurodegeneration. Study designs rarely presented homogeneity and the estimation of the exposure to pesticides has been most frequently performed without measuring the synergic effects and the possible interactions between the toxicants within mixtures, and also overlooking low exposures to environmental toxicants. It is possible that a Real-Life Risk Simulation approach would represent a robust alternative for future studies, so that the safe exposure limits and the net risk that pesticides confer to impaired cognitive function can be examined. Previous studies that evaluated the effect of low dose chronic exposure to mixtures of pesticides and other chemicals intending to simulate real life exposure scenarios showed that hermetic neurobehavioral effects can appear after mixture exposure at doses considered safe for individual compounds and these effects can be exacerbated by a coexistence with specific conditions such as vitamin deficiency. However, there is an overall indication, derived from both epidemiologic and laboratory evidence, supporting an association between exposure to neurotoxic pesticides and cognitive dysfunction, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Pesticides, cognitive functions and dementia: A review / Aloizou, A. -M.; Siokas, V.; Vogiatzi, C.; Peristeri, E.; Docea, A. O.; Petrakis, D.; Provatas, A.; Folia, V.; Chalkia, C.; Vinceti, M.; Wilks, M.; Izotov, B. N.; Tsatsakis, A.; Bogdanos, D. P.; Dardiotis, E.. - In: TOXICOLOGY LETTERS. - ISSN 0378-4274. - 326:(2020), pp. 31-51. [10.1016/j.toxlet.2020.03.005]