Effect of seafood mediated PCB exposure on desaturase activity and PUFA profile in Faroese septuagenarians

Sandra Søgaard Tøttenborg, Anna L. Choi, Kristian S. Bjerve, Pal Weihe, Philippe Grandjean

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    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) exposure may affect serum concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) by inhibiting desaturases increment5 and increment6 that drive their synthesis from precursor fatty acids. Such changes in the composition of fatty acids may affect cardiovascular disease risk, which is thought to increase at elevated PCB exposures. This population-based cross-sectional study examined 712 Faroese men and women aged 70-74 years. The serum phospholipid fraction of fasting blood samples was used to determine the PUFA profile, including linoleic acid, dihomo-γ-linolenic acid, arachidonic acid, eicosatrienoic acid, and other relevant fatty acids. Ratios between precursor and metabolite fatty acids were used as proxies for increment5 and increment6 desaturase activity. Tertiles of serum-PCB concentrations were used in multiple regression analyses to determine the association between the exposure and desaturase activity. In multiple regression models, PCB exposure was inversely related to the estimated δ6 desaturase activity resulting in accumulation of precursor fatty acids and decrease in the corresponding product PUFAs. A positive association between PCB and δ5 desaturation was also found. A relative increase in EA was also observed, though only in the third tertile of PCB exposure. Non-linear relationships between the exposure and the desaturase activity were not found. Consuming fish and seafood may not be translated into beneficial fatty acid profiles if the diet simultaneously causes exposure to PCBs. Although the desaturase estimates were likely influenced by dietary intakes of product PUFAs, the association between PCB exposure and increment6 desaturase activity is plausible and may affect cardiovascular disease risk.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)699-703
    Number of pages5
    JournalEnvironmental Research
    Early online date16 Jun 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Desaturase
    • Generalized additive models
    • Polychlorinated biphenyls
    • Polyunsaturated fatty acids


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