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3.5 Impact of environmental conditions on airway microbiota and respiratory health in the North

Principal Investigators

François Maltais, Marc Ouellette


Pierre Ayotte, Michel Bergeron, Louis-Philippe Boulet, Jean-Pierre Després, Caroline Duchaine, André Marette, David Marsolais, Mathieu Morissette, Barbara Papadopoulou, Roxanne Paulin


Yves Lacasse, Philippe Leprohon, Benoit Lévesque, Frédéric Raymond

Project summary

The aboriginal populations of the North are facing an unprecedented epidemic of respiratory diseases, which is intimately linked to rapidly occurring changes in lifestyle and environmental conditions that have been taken place during the past 20 years. High smoking rates and overcrowded and poorly ventilated homes create a fertile ground for the development of respiratory diseases. Less appreciated is the fact that chronic respiratory diseases often co-exist with cardiometabolic disorders, creating even more complex health problems.

The rationale of this proposal is that understanding how the Nordic environment influences the development of chronic respiratory diseases is a crucial step in improving aboriginal health. We hypothesize that modifications in the airway microbiota due to these extreme living conditions provide a plausible link between poor environmental conditions and respiratory diseases. Our objective is to generate crucial information about the impact and development of respiratory diseases in the North that will lead to effective preventive and therapeutic strategies. We will leverage on the 2017 Nunavik Inuit Health Survey (NIHS 2017) that will investigate respiratory health, lifestyle habits, and lung function by

i) evaluating the upper airway microbiota of 1000 Inuits aged 18- 30 years and of ≈ 800 participants from the 2004 health survey from the 14 Nunavik communities, and

ii) documenting, in a subset of subjects (n = 84) from these two cohorts, the air microbiological environment of their home.

Considering that cardiometabolic health and gut microbiota will also be evaluated, we propose to study the interplay between respiratory and cardiometabolic diseases in relationship with the airway and gut microbiota. The clinical investigation will be supplemented by in vivo experimentations allowing to address the research questions in a mechanistic fashion. Knowledge transfer activities and technological development are planned, notably by validating a new method to assess the airway microbiota in a pragmatic way.