January 14, 2021
A F A Mentis et al, 2021. Non-genetic risk and protective factors and biomarkers for neurological disorders: a meta-umbrella systematic review of umbrella reviews, BMC Med, Volume 19 (1)
Background: The etiologies of chronic neurological diseases, which heavily contribute to global disease burden, remain far from elucidated. Despite available umbrella reviews on single contributing factors or diseases, no study has systematically captured non-purely genetic risk and/or protective factors for chronic neurological diseases.
Methods: We performed a systematic analysis of umbrella reviews (meta-umbrella) published until September 20th, 2018, using broad search terms in MEDLINE, SCOPUS, Web of Science, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports, DARE, and PROSPERO. The PRISMA guidelines were followed for this study. Reference lists of the identified umbrella reviews were also screened, and the methodological details were assessed using the AMSTAR tool. For each non-purely genetic factor association, random effects summary effect size, 95% confidence and prediction intervals, and significance and heterogeneity levels facilitated the assessment of the credibility of the epidemiological evidence identified.
Results: We identified 2797 potentially relevant reviews, and 14 umbrella reviews (203 unique meta-analyses) were eligible. The median number of primary studies per meta-analysis was 7 (interquartile range (IQR) 7) and that of participants was 8873 (IQR 36,394). The search yielded 115 distinctly named non-genetic risk and protective factors with a significant association, with various strengths of evidence. Mediterranean diet was associated with lower risk of dementia, Alzheimer disease (AD), cognitive impairment, stroke, and neurodegenerative diseases in general. In Parkinson disease (PD) and AD/dementia, coffee consumption, and physical activity were protective factors. Low serum uric acid levels were associated with increased risk of PD. Smoking was associated with elevated risk of multiple sclerosis and dementia but lower risk of PD, while hypertension was associated with lower risk of PD but higher risk of dementia. Chronic occupational exposure to lead was associated with higher risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Late-life depression was associated with higher risk of AD and any form of dementia.
Conclusions: We identified several non-genetic risk and protective factors for various neurological diseases relevant to preventive clinical neurology, health policy, and lifestyle counseling. Our findings could offer new perspectives in secondary research (meta-research).
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