Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Study of Effects of Pollution in Health Through Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells

During our life we are exposed to several substances due to industrial processes. These compounds tend to accumulate in the environment, thus, we are at risk of several health effects caused by them, even if we don't have a direct contact with the pollutants. Stem cell toxicology is a favorable alternative to animal tests or in vitro assays because it allows the develope of a pollutant of interest, quickly, thoroughly, and cost-effectively. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) have several advantages such as the ability of be cultived indefinitely in dishes, can be employed in developmental toxicity assays, and they can virtually differentiate specifically into any type of cell of an adult organism.
One of the most studied pollutants is Bisphenol A (BPA) that is employed to make polycarbonate plastics in different products, and is recognized by the effects in health such as fertility problems, behavioral abnormalities, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. 
The researchers used a combination of biochemical and cell-based assays to examine the gene expression during the differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells upon treatment with BPA.
Previous reports have employed many in vivo and in vitro systems, but almost none utilized stem cells and when BPA was used in mouse ESCs, the effects were not toxic or not detected. In this study the effects of the toxicant BPA on mouse ESCs were tested with the stem cell toxicology system., resulting in a contradiction to previous reports, because the stem cell toxicology system was able to detect BPA toxicity in vitro, particularly towards the neural ectoderm specification.
"Our stem cell toxicology system proved to be very sensitive and reflective of the physiological toxic effects of BPA", said Francesco Faiola, Professor at the State Key Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology. "What's even more valuable is the fact that this system can be applied to assess numerous other pollutants for their toxicity and/or lethality without the expenses of time-consuming animal models.

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