Do country food nutrients protect against mercury toxicity and cardiometabolic diseases? Integrating data from cutting-edge science and mobilizing knowledge towards Nunavimmiut health

Despite a decreasing temporal trend over the last decades, methylmercury (MeHg) exposure in the Inuit population of Nunavik is still among the highest in the world. Traditional marine foods are the major source of this exposure, but are also rich in nutrients such as selenium (Se) and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA). Through an interdisciplinary program incorporating nutrition, epidemiology, toxicology and implementation research, we are addressing the complex issue of benefits and risks of country foods in the Inuit population of Nunavik, especially with regard to cardiometabolic diseases. In addition to continuing the integration of data obtained during the last two years of our program, we will conduct key additional work centred mainly on diabetes risk. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) prevalence among Inuit has been low compared to that of general populations, and much lower than in most aboriginal populations which are now struggling with T2D epidemics. However the dietary and lifestyle transition occurring in the Inuit population of Nunavik may change the situation in the near future. An emerging risk factor is MeHg exposure: MeHg administration was shown to impair pancreatic function in laboratory animals, and recently, MeHg exposure was associated with T2D risk in a prospective study of young American adults. There is an urgent need to determine if validated predictive biomarkers of T2D are modulated by MeHg exposure and by putative protective factors in the traditional diet such as Se, n-3 PUFA and polyphenols, from wild berries intake. These biomarkers of T2D, more specifically 2- aminoadipic acid, branched chain amino acids and acylcarnitine serum levels, will be determined in participants of the 2004 Inuit Health survey and their associations with new biomarkers of MeHg exposure, Se status (selenoproteins, small selenocompounds - serum levels determined in last year's project) and n-3 PUFA status will be examined. In addition, in vitro experiments will be conducted to examine the protective role played by Se and n-3 PUFA on the bioavailability of Hg in country foods. The integration of these much needed data will increase our understanding of the determinants of T2D and cardiovascular diseases (CVD) risk in this population. In addition, it will improve our capacity to develop and implement interventions that aim to promote the benefits of traditional marine diet, while minimizing MeHg exposure in this population.

Metadata Access
Creator Ayotte, Pierre; Chan, Laurie; Dumas, Pierre; Kwan, Michael; Laird, Brian; Lemire, Mélanie; Lucas, Michel
Publisher Canadian Cryospheric Information Network
Contributor Polar Data Catalogue
Publication Year 2017
Rights Research programs, CCIN, or ArcticNet take no liability for the use or transmission of this data
OpenAccess true
Contact pierre.ayotte(at); pdc(at)
Language English
Format Computer file
Discipline Environmental Research
Spatial Coverage (-78.000W, 56.000S, -65.000E, 63.000N)
Temporal Coverage Begin 2012-04-01T00:00:00Z
Temporal Coverage End 2017-03-31T00:00:00Z