Aerobic Fitness and Neurocognitive Function Scores in Young Faroese Adults and Potential Modification by Prenatal Methylmercury Exposure

Exposure to methylmercury was shown to decrease neural stem cell populations, whereas aerobic fitness has beneficial effects on the adult brain that relies on improved neurogenesis in the hippocampus. This study examined the association between aerobic fitness and neurocognitive outcomes at young adult age, along with the potential moderating effect of prenatal exposure to methylmercury. At age 22 years, 262 members of a Faroese birth cohort, established in 1986-1987, underwent a graded exercise test of aerobic fitness to measure maximal oxygen uptake (VO2Max). Their prenatal methylmercury exposure had been assessed from the mercury concentration in cord blood. The authors estimated cross-sectional associations between VO2Max and multiple measures of neurocognitive function. In addition, groups with low and high prenatal methylmercury exposure were compared. A one standard deviation (SD) increase in VO2Max was associated with better scores on short-term memory and cognitive processing speed by 0.21 SD (95% CI: -0.04, 0.46) and 0.28 SD (95% CI: 0.02, 0.54), respectively. In the group with lower prenatal methylmercury exposure, a one SD increase in VO2Max was associated with increased scores on cognitive processing speed by 0.45 SD (95% CI: 0.08, 0.81) and with a slightly lesser benefit in short-term memory. No such association was observed in the group with high prenatal methylmercury exposure. The authors concluded that higher aerobic capacity was associated with better performance in short-term memory and processing speed. However, prenatal methylmercury exposure seemed to attenuate these positive associations.

Authors: Oulhote Y, Debes F, Vestergaard S, Weihe P, Grandjean P. ;Full Source: Environmental Health Perspectives. 2016 Sep 9. [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Epub ahead of print] ;[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]