Marine n-3 fatty acids alter the proteomic response to methylmercury in Atlantic salmon kidney (ASK) cells

O. J. Nøstbakken, S. A. M. Martin, A. Goksøyr, P. Cash, B. E. Torstensen

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Fish based diets have been linked to the amelioration of methylmercury (MeHg) induced symptoms in several epidemiological studies, particularly due to their contents of marine n-3 fatty acids. It has been suggested that n-3 fatty acids may mask the detrimental effects of MeHg due to their beneficial effect on the same biological functions which are negatively affected by MeHg. However, in vitro studies have implied that there may be direct interactions between the marine n-3 FAs and MeHg, which ameliorates MeHg toxicity through interactions at a biological level. To understand how marine n-3 FAs and MeHg interact in fish as a biological system, we wanted to investigate molecular interaction in a fish cell system.Atlantic salmon kidney (ASK) cells were pre-incubated with the marine n-3 FAs docosahexaenoic acid (22:6. n-3, DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5. n-3, EPA) before exposing them to MeHg. Modulating effects of the marine FAs on MeHg toxicity were subsequently assessed using the exploratory technique of proteomics, in a factorial design.Thirty-four differentially regulated proteins were identified. From these; twenty-seven were shown to be differentially regulated by MeHg, twelve were regulated by the fatty acids, and another eight showed interaction effects between MeHg and the FAs. Several of the proteins were concomitantly affected by MeHg- and FA-main effects, as well as interaction effects. Functional annotations and pathway analysis of the proteins revealed that marine n-3 FAs and MeHg concurrently affected the abundance of protein markers relating to such molecular mechanisms as: cell signaling, calcium homeostasis, structural integrity, apoptosis, and energy metabolism.In conclusion, both marine n-3 FAs and MeHg can differentially affect the abundances of the same proteins, indicating modulating effects of EPA and DHA on MeHg metabolism, and possibly on its toxicity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-75
Number of pages11
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Issue number1
Early online date17 Oct 2011
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2012


  • methylmercury
  • docosahexaenoic acid
  • eicosapentaenoic acid
  • Atlantic salmon
  • proteomics


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