Étudiante-chercheuse étoile December 2017

Pauline Léveillé

Postdoctoral fellow in Psychology
Université de Montréal

Award-winning publication: Metabolism of uniformly labeled 13C-eicosapentaenoic acid and 13C-arachidonic acid in young and old men

Published in: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition


Pauline Léveillé set out a hypothesis that the human body assimilates omega-3 fat differently as it ages. To understand the link between omega-3 fat absorption and aging, six young men and six older men were followed for three months. Carbon-13-labelled non-radioactive isotopes of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and arachidonic acid were used as indicators and biomarkers that made it possible to trace the two molecules and their metabolites without disturbing the body's physical, chemical or biological behaviours. A few drops of carbon-13-labelled omega-3 or omega-6 oil were put on bread that was then consumed by each participant. Blood tests were run several hours and several days after the tracer was ingested. Pauline Léveillé's study showed that a nutrient produced from EPA is eliminated more slowly in older men than in younger ones. Her findings are an important step forward in the field of aging and nutrition. Dietary recommendations for omega-3, which are currently non-existent, could be personalized to account for a person's age.