EPIC working groups

The Neurodegenerative Diseases Working Group

Progress in prevention and treatment of late-onset neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease is hampered by the restricted understanding of the biological and environmental causes underlying the pathophysiology.

This includes knowledge about gene—environment interactions, which are widely accepted as major determinants of risk, but experimental evidence in this field is very limited. Also, little is known about biomarker changes that precede the onset of overt clinical signs of the neurodegenerative process.

An important aim of the Neurodegenerative Diseases Working Group is therefore to evaluate comprehensive risk models and to identify pre-diagnostic biomarkers of early detection and disease progression.

The ultimate goal is to better understand the pathophysiological pathways leading to neurodegeneration and associated disability and to translate the knowledge into novel preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic strategies.

One central activity of the Working Group is to collaborate with the European Cohort Consortium initiative, to establish a platform of all major population-based ageing and dementia cohorts in Europe to ensure coordinated action between different groups and to accelerate scientific progress. EPIC, with its wealth of data and biomaterial, is a key player in these activities because it allows findings from other European cohorts to be validated and extended in a sample that is representative of the ageing European population.

The Neurodegenerative Diseases Working Group is also interested in brain disorders with a low prevalence and a pre-senile onset, such as frontotemporal lobar degeneration, atypical Parkinsonism, and motor neurone disease. Examples include the associations between cigarette smoking1 and body fat2 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Selected publications

  1. Peters S et al. Blood metal levels and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis risk: a prospective cohort. Ann Neurol. 2020 Oct 17. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33068316

  2. Peters S et al. Alcohol Consumption and Risk of Parkinson's Disease: Data From a Large Prospective European Cohort. Mov Disord. 2020 Jul;35(7):1258-1263. PMID: 32357270

  3. Gallo V et al. Exploring causality of the association between smoking and Parkinson's disease. Int J Epidemiol. 2019 Jun 1;48(3):912-925. PMID: 30462234

  4. Riso L et al. General and abdominal adiposity and the risk of Parkinson's disease: A prospective cohort study. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2019 May;62:98-104. PMID: 30772279

  5. Gallo V et al. Parkinson´s disease case ascertainment in the EPIC cohort: the NeuroEPIC4PD study. Neurodegener Dis. 2015;15(6):331-8. PMID: 26375921

  6. Gallo V et al. Physical activity and risk of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in a prospective cohort study. Eur J Epidemiol. 2016 Mar;31(3):255-66. PMID: 26968841

  7. Gallo V et al. Prediagnostic body fat and risk of death from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: the EPIC cohort. Neurol. 2013 Feb 26;80(9):829-38 3. PMID: 23390184

  8. Gallo V et al. Smoking and risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: analysis of the EPIC cohort. Ann Neurol. 2009;65(4):378-385. PMID: 19399866

Contact details/Working Group leader

Dr Christina M. Lill
Imperial College London School of Public Health
Neuroepidemiology and Ageing Research Unit
Charing Cross Hospital Campus
St Dunstan´s Road
W6 8RP London
United Kingdom