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Original Research | Open Access

Estimating the causal effect of air pollution on mental disorders: A two-sample Mendelian randomization study

Yunfei Zhua,1Fangzhou Hua,1Xiaoling Zhoub( )Qun Xuea,c( )
Department of Neurology, First Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, Suzhou 215000, Jiangsu, China
Department of Neurology, Suzhou Municipal Hospital, Suzhou 215000, Jiangsu, China
Suzhou Clinical Medical Centre, Suzhou 215000, Jiangsu, China

1 They contributed equally to this article.

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Observational studies have reported a link between particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) and the risk of mental disorders; however, the causality is unclear.


Using publicly available genome-wide association studies, we conducted a two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) study to assess the causal relationship between PM2.5 and six mental disorders: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), bipolar disorder (BD), major depressive disorder (MDD), schizophrenia (SCZ), and anxiety disorder (ANX). The inverse-variance weighting method was used as the main method for estimating causal effects. MR-Egger, weighted median, simple mode, weighted mode, and MR-PRESSO were applied as supplementary analyses.


Using the inverse-variance weighting method, genetically predicted PM2.5 exposure increased the risk of ADHD (odds ratio [OR] = 1.52, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.16 to 1.99, p = 0.002), ANX (OR = 2.96, 95% CI = 1.29 to 6.81, p = 0.01), and SCZ (OR = 2.21, 95% CI = 1.40 to 3.47, p = 0.001). However, there was no evidence to suggest that genetically predicted exposure to PM2.5 increased the risk of the other three mental disorders (p > 0.05).


The present findings enhance our understanding of the role of PM2.5 exposure on ADHD, ANX, and SCZ risk. It may be necessary to search for novel components with neuroprotective effects to provide new preventive and therapeutic strategies for PM2.5-induced brain damage.

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Journal of Neurorestoratology
Article number: 100114
Cite this article:
Zhu Y, Hu F, Zhou X, et al. Estimating the causal effect of air pollution on mental disorders: A two-sample Mendelian randomization study. Journal of Neurorestoratology, 2024, 12(2): 100114.






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Received: 16 December 2023
Revised: 25 January 2024
Accepted: 30 January 2024
Published: 20 March 2024
© 2024

This is an open access article under the CC BY license (