PLOURDE, Mélanie

Gerosciences Axis


819 780-2220 , 45664

Assistant Professor
Department of Medicine (Geriatrics)
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Université de Sherbrooke

Chairholder of the Research chair from the Centre de recherche médicale de l’Université de Sherbrooke (CRMUS) in lipid metabolism in aging


Ph.D. Food Science and Technology
M.Sc. Food Science and Technology
B.Sc. Food Science and Technology

Research Themes

Research Relevance

Aging and genetic factors such as apolipoprotein E epsilon 4 (ApoE4) are the principal risk factors in Alzheimer's disease (AD). The Alzheimer Society's 2010 report entitled Rising Tide estimates that by 2038, some 1,125,200 Canadians will have AD and related dementias, a total of 2.8% of the country's population. Unfortunately, no medication is effective to treat AD or to delay its evolution to more severe dementia. It is therefore essential to identify preventive strategies to reduce the risk of cognitive decline in aging. One of the proposed strategies is to increase the consumption of fish as it is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline over time, except with carriers of ApoE4. Fish are a source of omega-3 fatty acids, notably docosahexanoic acid (DHA). However, it would appear that aging and ApoE4 modify DHA metabolism, suggesting alterations in transportation and DHA usage which may contribute to the risk of cognitive decline. Even though the mechanisms through which DHA may protect the brain are poorly understood, they may be related to the uptake of DHA in cerebral membranes, providing better membrane permeability and fluidity, gene expression, and production of anti-inflammatory compounds.

Prof. Plourde wants to better understand the interactions between aging, ApoE4, and the metabolism of omega-3 in the risk of cognitive decline. The aim of her research is to develop nutritional strategies to lower that risk in population groups at greatest risk. Her expertise in nutrition, biochemistry, physiology, genetics, and aging puts her in an underexploited and extremely vital research niche in a context of population aging.

Representative Achievements

  • Funding: Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR); National Sciences and Research Council of Canada (NSERC)); FRSQ Junior 1 Research Scholarship
  • Plourde M*, Vohl MC, Vandal M, Couture P, Lemieux S, Cunnane SC. Plasma n-3 fatty acid response to an n-3 fatty acid supplement is modulated by apolipoprotein E epsilon-4 but not by the common PPAR-alpha L162V polymorphism in men. British Journal of Nutrition, 2009, 102(8), 1121-1124. Cunnane SC, Plourde M, Pifferi F, Bégin M, Féart C, and Barberger-Gateau P (guest review). Fish, Docosahexaenoic Acid and Alzheimer’s Disease. Progr Lipid Res. 48, 239-256, 2009.
  • Plourde M*, Chouinard-Watkins R, Vandal M, Zhang Y, Lawrence P, Brenna JT, Cunnane SC. Plasma incorporation, apparent retroconversion and beta-oxidation of 13C-docosahexaenoic acid in the elderly. Nutrition and Metabolism, 2011, 8, 1-9.
  • Plourde M, Chouinard-Watkins R, Rioux-Perreault C, Fortier M, Dang TM, Allard MJ, Tremblay-Mercier J, Zhang Y, Lawrence P, Vohl MC, Perron P, Lorrain D, Brenna JT, Cunnane SC, Kinetics of 13C-docosahexaenoic acid before and during fish oil supplementation in healthy older persons. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 100, 105-112.
  • Chouinard-Watkins R, Conway V, Minihane AM, Jackson KG, Lovegrove JA, Plourde M. Interaction between diet and APOE genotype on relative % of total saturated fatty acids and docosapentaenoic acid in plasma lipid classes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in press.
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  • Lipid metabolism and nutrition
  • Methodology of Carbon-13 tracer Randomized control trials
  • Analysis of trans, saturated, conjugated, and long-chain fatty acids

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