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Immunotoxicity In Humans With Lifetime Exposure In Ocean Pollutants


<p>Seafood is a main source of human exposure to methylmercury and persistent pollutants that biomagnify in ocean food chains. Among the persistent contaminants, most attention has been paid to the lipophilic contaminants, such as the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). However, perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) also appear to biomagnify in ocean food chains, with the highest concentrations in marine mammals at high trophic levels. In humans and other mammals, the developing immune system may be a particularly vulnerable target organ. Experimental evidence and studies on marine mammals suggest that ocean pollutants can adversely affect several immune function parameters. Epidemiological research is crucial to determine whether a human health risk is present at current environmental exposure levels, and to assess whether developmental immunotoxic effects lead to permanent functional alterations with possible implications for health and immune-mediated disease later in life. In this project, an epidemiological research team at the Harvard University School of Public Health, in cooperation with colleagues at the University of Southern Denmark and the Faroese Hospital System, will study previously established birth cohorts of over 1,000 human subjects with a wide range of exposures to PFCs and other immunotoxicants in two North Atlantic fishing communities, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Both populations are vulnerable due to high-level seafood consumption, and traditional diet includes marine mammals at high trophic levels. Due to differences in dietary habits, a wide range of exposures exists, with highly elevated PFC exposures in Greenlanders. The team will use serum concentrations of antibodies against vaccine antigens as a marker of immunotoxicity. Prenatal exposure information and background immunology data are already available from the cohorts; this preexisting information along with banked serum samples will therefore allow this new study to cover exposures onwards from intrauterine development and to document outcomes in childhood through to adulthood. Broader Impacts: The new understanding of ocean immunotoxicant risks gained in this study is expected to benefit public health officials and environmental managers responsible for making policy decisions related to the utilization of marine resources related to seafood production. Such benefits should extend beyond the study areas to populations worldwide where seafood is a significant component of the daily diet.JOINT FUNDING BY NSF AND NIEHS: The original proposal on which this project is based (R01 ES021960-01) was submitted to the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH/NIEHS) in response to Funding Opportunity Announcement RFA-ES-11-013 , ?Oceans, Great Lakes and Human Health (R01)?, an opportunity jointly sponsored by NSF. This project is cooperatively funded through separate awards from NSF and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). This award constitutes the NSF contribution to the project.</P>

Grandjean, Philippe
Harvard University
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