Bio-medical threats

Bio-medical threats

Human interaction with severe arctic climates leads to several direct and indirect impacts to be considered (Berner, 2005). The direct impacts are “those health consequences resulting from direct interactions with aspects of the environment that have changed or are changing with local climate”; the indirect impacts are “those health consequences resulting from indirect interactions mediated via human behavior”. To address these problems, the project participants from IEC worked with collected samples of biological material from newcomers and indigenoues population to study hormonal (cortisol, serotonin, leptin, resistin, galanin etc) and immune (Th1, Th2, citokins etc) status related to environmental, nutrition (120 component) and living conditions. The IEC group is fully equipped (e.g. BD FACSCalibur Flow Citometr, JEM-1011 microscope, Sepax separator, Gilson chromotograph etc) for bio-medical studies.

The study was approved by the local Ethics Committee, on the basis of the
Constitution (Articles 18, 20, 21, 22, 28 and 41) and the Federal Law №323 from 21.11.2003, the “On the basis of protection of health of citizens of Russia” (articles 18-22).

Study area


The study was conducted in the Kharampur village and “Chebacjhe” camp (the
southern part of the Purov region of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, in the northern taiga subzone of the Russian Federation). This area is 120 km away from the nearest district center Tarko-Sale. The village is quite modern with one- and two-stored brick administrative and residential buildings. It has centralized water supply, sewerage and heating networks, asphalt and concrete coated streets. The industrial zone has boiler and transformer stations, fish storage and processing plant, fire station. “Chebacjhe “ camp is located in a wooded area 15-25 km from the village. People are living there in the tents made of natural materials like
rain deer skin and wood (“Chum”) 2-3 km from each other covering the area in the radius of 10-12 km. A total of 75 indigenous people took part in the study. Data analysis was carried out for the whole group of the subjects and separately for the two separate sub-groups: the Nenets who “live in the wild” (in the camp), and the Nenets who live in the urbanized conditions (the Kharampur village). It should be mentioned, that genetically the whole group is rather homogeneous: all belong to the traditional ethnic community living in relative isolation until recently. This ethnic group for historically long time have experienced stable climatic, geographic and cultural environment, and social conditions and accommodation (with related aspects included) being reasonably independent variable factors.

The first group consisted of 36 Nenets living “in the wild”, mainly engaged in fishing, rain deer herding and housekeeping (natural conditions). Most of them had neither secondary nor higher education. The mean age for the first group of participants was 41.48 ± 1.85 years. The second group consisted of 39 people (aged 36.25 ± 1.98 years) of the same ethnic group, lived and worked in the village (urban conditions) for a long time. About 75% of them had a higher education, and 25% - secondary education. All participants have signed informed consent forms.  Interviews were carried out and a questionnaire was used to assess the psychological characteristics of the participants in particular the “aggressiveness” and “hostility” levels (Buss, Durkee, 1957). In the present context aggression was used to describe certain human responses, characterized by the presence of destructive tendencies; and hostility was used to describe reactions, developing negative feelings and negative evaluations of people and events. Three indices (“physical aggression”, “irritation” and “verbal aggression”) calculated from the questionnaire data (Buss, Durkee, 1957) formed a cumulative index of aggression,
determining the overall active reaction towards other individuals. Indices “insult” and “suspicion” formed a cumulative index of hostility, determining generally negative, skeptical attitude towards others. The values of cumulative parameters of aggressiveness (21.0 ± 4.0) and hostility (7.0 ± 3.0), both in relative units, were considered as “normal”, while the values exceeding these corresponding reactions were regarded as aggressive and hostile.

Evaluation of immune and endocrine system response parameters was performed by enzyme immunoassay (ELISA) using universal photometer Anthos Reader Zenyth 200st (Biochrom, UK). The functional activity of T-cell immunity was assessed by the level of blood serum level of cytokines IL-4 and IFN-γ, which were determined using the bioassays produced by the company VECTOR-BEST. Molecular integrity of the immune system functioning was assessed using the serotonin and cortisol levels. Cortisol level was measured using reagent set produced by ALKOR-Bio (Russia); serotonin level was measured using
corresponding reagent by IBL International (Germany, Hamburg). Statistical analysis of the data was carried out using statistics software package SPSS11.5 by Microsoft (mean, variance, average, parametric comparison of the Student’s criterion, Pearson correlation coefficients, and ranking).


Fisher T.A., Petrov S.A., Koptyug A., Sukhovey Y.G. 2016: A way to health through psycho-immunological wellbeing: Example of Indigenous People of Russian North, Proc. IIId Intl Conference "Psychological Health of the Person: Life Resource and Life Potential", (Refereed)

The research was carried out into the changes within psychic and immune domains ofthe Russian Nenets people migrating from the traditional northern habitat (tundra) to urbanenvironment. It is noted that in the process of significantly changing lifestyle supposedlysingle ethnic group can be clearly sub-divided according to the differences in adaptation dynamics. This division reflects sociological differences and is connected to the psychoimmunologicalaspects. Thus, with the adaptation of forest Nenets to the new conditions ofexistence (from the tundra to the urban centers), we found a division of a whole ethnic groupinto two groups according to a social attribute, which is fixed at the psychophysiologicallevel. First, psychic and immune domains are not only sharing a number of commonfeatures but also can have deep evolutionary connections and can be governed by similarlaws. Second, the psyche and the immune system show the most important functions andproperties that ensure an effective existence, generalizing the values of adaptation, protectionand vitality into a single structure. Such a concept is closed to “wholeness” and “integrity” showing that the distribution of vital forces or body resources can adjust the condition orcope with the pre-illness or even disease.

Petrov S.A., Mamaeva N. and Narushko M., 2016: Urban development of heat island territories and the health of the northern indigenous population, MATEC Web of Conferences 106, 01035 (2017) DOI: 10.1051/matecconf/201710601035

Characteristics of the immune system tundra Nenets showed correlations between immunological parameters and climatic indicators in Sumburgh settlement. The average daily temperature, relative humidity of the air, wind speed, precipitation was estimated a week before blood sampling of tundra Nenets. In our opinion,
the content of leukocytes in the blood of practically healthy people is associated with the number and variation of precipitation (r = 0.462 for p < 0.05 and r = 0.537 for p < 0.05 respectively), with the wind speed (r = -0.513; p < 0.05). In the group of people with SID blood, the content of leukocytes depends on variations in precipitation (r = -0.517; p < 0.05), air temperature (r = -0.528; p < 0.05). Content of basophils in blood depends on the climatic characteristics. The increase basophils in blood caused by an increase in relative humidity (r = 0.718; p < 0.05) and air
temperature (r = 0.670; p < 0.05) for healthy tundra Nenets. The population with the SID number and variation of precipitation (r = 0.893 for p 0.001 and r = 0.885 for p 0.001 respectively) and relative humidity (r = 0.899; p 0.001) is also associated with changes content of basophils in blood.

The level of segmented neutrophils in the group of healthy individuals depended on
the number and variation of precipitation (r = 0.703 and r = 0.656 respectively). With SID increase of number of variation and precipitation (r = 0.703 and r = 0.656  respectively), increase and variation of air temperature (r = 0.642 and r = 0.715  respectively), decrease in wind speed (r = -0.895; p < 0.001) is associated with an increase in the number of segmented neutrophils in the blood. With the increase in air temperature in a healthy population content CD95+neutrophils (r = -0.659) decreases. In contrast to the healthy population, people with SID with increasing variations in precipitation and relative humidity levels of CD95+neutrophils (r = 0.784 for p < 0.01 and r = 0.765 for p < 0.01 respectively) increased.
The increase in air temperature decreases the content of monocytes in blood in healthy population (r = -0.688; p < 0.05). With regard to content in blood lymphocytes, their levels in the blood decreased with the increase of precipitation in a healthy population (r = -0.671; p < 0.05) and wind speed variations for people with SID (r = -0.807; p 0.01). And the content in the blood CD3+ lymphocytes for people with SID - by the wind speed (r = -0.610; p < 0.01).

When analyzing the humoral immune system there were installed the following
correlation dependence on climatic characteristics of the municipal entity of the Sumburgh of Purovsky district of YaNAO. The increase in the number and variation of precipitation is accompanied by increasing IgA content in a healthy population (r = 0.498 and r = 0.936 respectively) and decrease of it for people with SID (r = -0.521). It is also found that with the decrease of the air temperature level of content of IgA in blood serum of the healthy population (r = 0.594) decreases. However, this parameter increased for people with SID (r = -0.507; p < 0.05). It was revealed that for people with SID increase of wind speed is also accompanied by increasing IgA content in blood serum (r = 0.551; p < 0.05). An increase in amount of precipitation is associated with increasing IgM in blood serum (r = 0.600 and r = 0.480 respectively) for the healthy population as well as for people with SID. Also with the increase of the air temperature the content of IgM in blood serum (r = 0.576; p < 0.01) increases for people with SID.


Petrov results figure 1

Cumulative aggression and hostility indices for the studied Forest Nenets subgroups.

Forest Nenets, constantly living in the village (urban environment) have
increased levels of psychological and physiological tension: higher “insult” and “suspicion” indicators and lower levels of IL-4 and serum INFγ, as compared to the ones living in traditional environment (in the camp). There were no differences between the groups in the expression of stress reaction at the physiological level: there is no significant change in the level of cortisol and serum serotonin.
Acquired results additionally support the hypothesis of apparent connection between the psychic and immune domains. In the particular example, both domains seem to be jointly involved into the process of adaptation to the life conditions, and are jointly maintaining the required level of resources of the human body, linking adaptation and protection tasks into a single meta-system.

It is also possible to assume that the immune defenses (cell level) are mainly
responsible for dealing with the changes in the physical environment, and humoral defensesfor building/changing relationships (especially for the interpersonal communication), but this hypothesis requires special verification.

Examples of successful adaptation of the Nenets sub-population moved to the
rural living indicates that major “body and mind” resources can be effectively redistributed to cope with quite extreme survival challenges. Corresponding re-distribution of the “vitality resources” may possibly be achieved via the st imulation of psychic domain, and so the psychic health can be helping immune system to keep physical health. This in a sense supports the holistic approach to the health care when mind and body are treated as integrated and inseparable, and that mind can in fluence the body and vice versa.

Main conclusions

  • Psychic and immune domains share a number of common features, and have deep evolutionary connections. The psyche and the immune system show the most important functions and properties that ensure an effective existence, generalizing the values of adaptation, protection and vitality into a single structure.
  • Characteristics of the immune system tundra Nenets showed correlations between immunological parameters and climatic indicators in Sumburgh settlement.
  • Forest Nenets, constantly living in the village (urban environment) have
    increased levels of psychological and physiological tension: higher “insult” and “suspicion” indicators