Dioxin-like activity in the blood of Greenlandic Inuit and Danish women: a pilot study

Int J Circumpolar Health. 2010 Apr;69(2):181-94. doi: 10.3402/ijch.v69i2.17434. Epub 2010 Mar 29.


Objectives: (1) To determine whether plasma dioxin-like (DL) bioactivity differs between Inuit living in different Greenlandic districts, (2) to compare the DL activity of the Inuit having high burdens of POPs with a low-burden study group (Danish volunteers), and (3) to evaluate DL activity associations to POP exposure biomarkers and/or lifestyle factors.

Study design: The study was a cross-sectional survey, including randomized inhabitants (70) from 6 different Greenlandic districts and young Danish volunteers (22).

Methods: POPs and fatty acids profiles were analysed. Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) mediated DL-activity was determined by exposure of Hepa1.12cR AhR-CALUX reporter cell line to hexane: ethanol plasma extracts.

Results: The sum PCBs/POPs level of Inuit was more than 10 times higher than the levels found in Danish volunteers, and for both study groups the level was positively associated with age. The TCDD equivalent of the determined DL-activity, AhR-TEQ, differed between the Greenlandic districts. The AhR-TEQ data of the combined Inuit was significantly higher compared with the Danish women. AhR-TEQ of Inuit were positively associated with plasma POPs after adjustment for age and/or the ratio of n-3 to n-6 fatty acids, whereas no correlations were found for the Danish samples.

Conclusions: AhR-TEQ differs between Inuit and Danish plasma samples. Plasma POP levels alone cannot be used as a biomarker for DL-activity. We suggest that the profile and level of plasma POPs, geographical location and diet have the greatest impact on plasma dioxin activity. Further studies are needed to elucidate the differences in geographical determinants of blood DL-activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Denmark
  • Dioxins / blood*
  • Female
  • Greenland
  • Humans
  • Inuits*
  • Mice
  • Pesticide Residues / blood
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / blood


  • Dioxins
  • Pesticide Residues
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls