Biomarkers of methylmercury exposure immunotoxicity among fish consumers in amazonian Brazil

Jennifer F. Nyland, Myriam Fillion, Fernando Barbosa, Devon L. Shirley, Chiameka Chine, Melanie Lemire, Donna Mergler, Ellen Silbergeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Mercury (Hg) is a ubiquitous environmental contaminant with neurodevelopmental and immune system effects. An informative biomarker of Hg-induced immunotoxicity could aid studies on the potential contribution to immune-related health effects. Objectives: Our objectives were to test the hypothesis that methylmercury (MeHg) exposures affect levels of serum biomarkers and to examine interactions between Hg and selenium (Se) in terms of these responses. Methods: This cross-sectional epidemiological study assessed adults living along the Tapajós River, a system long affected by MeHg. We measured antinuclear (ANA) and antinucleolar (ANoA) autoantibody levels and eight cytokines in serum samples (n = 232). Total Hg (including MeHg) and Se were measured in blood, plasma, hair, and urine. Results: The median (range) total Hg concentrations were 14.1 μg/g (1.1-62.4), 53.5 μg/L (4.3-288.9), 8.8 μg/L (0.2-40), and 3.0 μg/L (0.2-16.1) for hair, blood, plasma, and urine, respectively. Elevated titers of ANA (but not ANoA) were positively associated with MeHg exposure (log-t{stroke}ransformed, for blood and plasma), unadjusted [odds ratio (OR) = 2.6; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.1, 6.2] and adjusted for sex and age (OR = 2.9; 95% CI: 1.1, 7.5). Proinflammatory [interleukin (IL)-6 and interferon (IFN)-γ], anti-inflammatory (IL-4), and IL-17 cytokine levels were increased with MeHg exposure; however, in the subset of the population with elevated ANA, proinflammatory IL-1β, IL-6, IFN-γ, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and anti-inflammatory (IL-4) cytokine levels were decreased with MeHg exposure. Although Se status was associated with MeHg level (correlation coefficient = 0.86; 95% CI: 0.29, 1.43), Se status was not associated with any changes in ANA and did not modify associations between Hg and ANA titers. Conclusions: MeHg exposure was associated with an increased ANA and changes in serum cytokine profile. Moreover, alterations in serum cytokine profiles differed based on ANA response, suggesting a specific phenotype of MeHg susceptibility. Further research on the potential health implications of these observed immunological changes is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1733-1738
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Volume119
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011

Fingerprint

Brazil
Selenium
Fishes
Biomarkers
Cytokines
Confidence Intervals
Serum
Interleukin-4
Interferons
Interleukin-6
Anti-Inflammatory Agents
Odds Ratio
Urine
Interleukin-17
Health
Mercury
Interleukin-1
Rivers
Autoantibodies
Epidemiologic Studies

Keywords

  • Autoantibodies
  • Cytokine
  • Immune response
  • Mercury
  • Selenium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

Nyland, J. F., Fillion, M., Barbosa, F., Shirley, D. L., Chine, C., Lemire, M., ... Silbergeld, E. (2011). Biomarkers of methylmercury exposure immunotoxicity among fish consumers in amazonian Brazil. Environmental Health Perspectives, 119(12), 1733-1738.

Biomarkers of methylmercury exposure immunotoxicity among fish consumers in amazonian Brazil. / Nyland, Jennifer F.; Fillion, Myriam; Barbosa, Fernando; Shirley, Devon L.; Chine, Chiameka; Lemire, Melanie; Mergler, Donna; Silbergeld, Ellen.

In: Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 119, No. 12, 12.2011, p. 1733-1738.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Nyland, JF, Fillion, M, Barbosa, F, Shirley, DL, Chine, C, Lemire, M, Mergler, D & Silbergeld, E 2011, 'Biomarkers of methylmercury exposure immunotoxicity among fish consumers in amazonian Brazil', Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 119, no. 12, pp. 1733-1738.
Nyland JF, Fillion M, Barbosa F, Shirley DL, Chine C, Lemire M et al. Biomarkers of methylmercury exposure immunotoxicity among fish consumers in amazonian Brazil. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2011 Dec;119(12):1733-1738.
Nyland, Jennifer F. ; Fillion, Myriam ; Barbosa, Fernando ; Shirley, Devon L. ; Chine, Chiameka ; Lemire, Melanie ; Mergler, Donna ; Silbergeld, Ellen. / Biomarkers of methylmercury exposure immunotoxicity among fish consumers in amazonian Brazil. In: Environmental Health Perspectives. 2011 ; Vol. 119, No. 12. pp. 1733-1738.
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abstract = "Background: Mercury (Hg) is a ubiquitous environmental contaminant with neurodevelopmental and immune system effects. An informative biomarker of Hg-induced immunotoxicity could aid studies on the potential contribution to immune-related health effects. Objectives: Our objectives were to test the hypothesis that methylmercury (MeHg) exposures affect levels of serum biomarkers and to examine interactions between Hg and selenium (Se) in terms of these responses. Methods: This cross-sectional epidemiological study assessed adults living along the Tapaj{\'o}s River, a system long affected by MeHg. We measured antinuclear (ANA) and antinucleolar (ANoA) autoantibody levels and eight cytokines in serum samples (n = 232). Total Hg (including MeHg) and Se were measured in blood, plasma, hair, and urine. Results: The median (range) total Hg concentrations were 14.1 μg/g (1.1-62.4), 53.5 μg/L (4.3-288.9), 8.8 μg/L (0.2-40), and 3.0 μg/L (0.2-16.1) for hair, blood, plasma, and urine, respectively. Elevated titers of ANA (but not ANoA) were positively associated with MeHg exposure (log-t{stroke}ransformed, for blood and plasma), unadjusted [odds ratio (OR) = 2.6; 95{\%} confidence interval (CI): 1.1, 6.2] and adjusted for sex and age (OR = 2.9; 95{\%} CI: 1.1, 7.5). Proinflammatory [interleukin (IL)-6 and interferon (IFN)-γ], anti-inflammatory (IL-4), and IL-17 cytokine levels were increased with MeHg exposure; however, in the subset of the population with elevated ANA, proinflammatory IL-1β, IL-6, IFN-γ, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and anti-inflammatory (IL-4) cytokine levels were decreased with MeHg exposure. Although Se status was associated with MeHg level (correlation coefficient = 0.86; 95{\%} CI: 0.29, 1.43), Se status was not associated with any changes in ANA and did not modify associations between Hg and ANA titers. Conclusions: MeHg exposure was associated with an increased ANA and changes in serum cytokine profile. Moreover, alterations in serum cytokine profiles differed based on ANA response, suggesting a specific phenotype of MeHg susceptibility. Further research on the potential health implications of these observed immunological changes is warranted.",
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AU - Nyland, Jennifer F.

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AU - Barbosa, Fernando

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AU - Chine, Chiameka

AU - Lemire, Melanie

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