Predictors of mitochondrial DNA copy number and damage in a mercury-exposed rural Peruvian population near artisanal and small-scale gold mining: An exploratory study.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number (CN) and damage in circulating white blood cells have been proposed as effect biomarkers for pollutant exposures. Studies have shown that mercury accumulates in mitochondria and affects mitochondrial function and integrity; however, these data are derived largely from experiments in model systems, rather than human population studies that evaluate the potential utility of mitochondrial exposure biomarkers. We measured mtDNA CN and damage in white blood cells (WBCs) from 83 residents of nine communities in the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon that vary in proximity to artisanal and small-scale gold mining. Prior research from this region reported high levels of mercury in fish and a significant association between food consumption and human total hair mercury level of residents. We observed that mtDNA CN and damage were both associated with consumption of fruit and vegetables, higher diversity of fruit consumed, residential location, and health characteristics, suggesting common environmental drivers. Surprisingly, we observed negative associations of mtDNA damage with both obesity and age. We did not observe any association between total hair mercury or, in contrast to previous results, age, with either mtDNA damage or CN. The results of this exploratory study highlight the importance of combining epidemiological and laboratory research in studying the effects of stressors on mitochondria, suggesting that future work should incorporate nutritional and social characteristics, and caution should be taken when applying conclusions from epidemiological studies conducted in the developed world to other regions, as results may not be easily translated. Environ. Mol. Mutagen. 60: 197-210, 2019. © 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Berky, AJ; Ryde, IT; Feingold, B; Ortiz, EJ; Wyatt, LH; Weinhouse, C; Hsu-Kim, H; Meyer, JN; Pan, WK

Published Date

  • March 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 60 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 197 - 210

PubMed ID

  • 30289587

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC6452630

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1098-2280

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0893-6692

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/em.22244


  • eng