The objective of the present study was to evaluate hair essential and trace element levels and metabolic risk markers in overweight and obese subjects in relation to body mercury burden. According to 2 × 2 factorial design a total of 440 adults were distributed to four groups: (i) low-Hg normal-weight subjects (n = 114); (ii) high-Hg normal weight subjects (n = 113); (iii) low-Hg overweight (BMI > 25) subjects (n = 110); (iv) high-Hg overweight (BMI > 25) subjects (n = 110). Hg-exposed groups consisted of subjects characterized by frequent seafood consumption (> 4 times/week) subsequently evaluated by hair analysis (> 0.58 μg/g). Dietary-exposed subjects were characterized by a more than 3-fold higher hair Hg content irrespectively of body weight values. Both low-Hg and high-Hg overweight subjects were characterized by significantly higher ALT activity, as well as elevated serum glucose, LDL, and triglyceride levels as compared to the respective groups of normal weight subjects. High Hg body burden had a more significant effect on metabolic parameters in overweight and obese adults. Particularly, high-Hg overweight subjects were characterized by significantly higher serum creatinine and uric acid levels, as well as increased GGT and CK activity as compared to low-Hg overweight counterparts. In addition, hair Mg, Mn, and Sr content in high-Hg overweight subjects was significantly lower than that in low-Hg normal weight and overweight examinees. In turn, high Hg levels in overweight subjects were associated with significantly higher hair Se and Zn levels when compared to unexposed overweight adults. Generally, the obtained data demonstrate that increased hair Hg levels in overweight and obese subjects is associated with adverse metabolic profile. It is proposed that observed metabolic alterations may be at least partially mediated by Hg-associated disturbances in essential trace element and mineral metabolism.
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