Researchers at the University of Massachusetts examined how exposure of embryos to certain common pollutants may put people at risk for diabetes and other metabolic health conditions later in life. .
They looked at the effects on the developing pancreas of people early in life exposed to two common substances per and polyfluoroalkylated (PFAS), found in waterproof and non-stick household products, and water film-forming foam containing PFAS (AFFF), used to extinguish flammable liquid fires. The so-called “chemical forever” takes decades to decompose in the environment and contaminates drinking water around the world.
Understanding the long-term health effects of permanent chemicals
The researchers used transgenic zebrafish to study the effects of these toxic chemicals on embryonic development. This would build on one of their previous key findings showing that oxidative stress generated from exposure to chemicals leads to malformations of the developing islets of the pancreas, which house beta cells. (β cells) are responsible for the synthesis, storage and release of insulin.
‘Commonly used chemicals permanently affect glucose metabolism by altering the cells present in the pancreas, which are responsible for synthesizing, storing and releasing insulin.’
To better understand these mechanisms and the functional implications of these malformations, they used imaging techniques including confocal microscopy at the Institute of Life Sciences Light Microscopy Facility. Application.
Pancreatic malformations, which occur in about 10% of the population, are associated with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as well as obesity and pancreatitis. In zebrafish exposed to PFAS, preliminary data have shown elevated levels of fructosamine, a clinical biomarker of human diabetes.
These findings suggest that researchers will be able to predict the effects of other exposures once they understand the mechanism that occurs in cells. They also hope to add to the evidence base on the health effects of PFAS chemicals.
This work will also have a lasting and powerful impact on the fields of developmental toxicology, redox biology, developmental origins of health and disease, and provide important advances for with the development of science-based PFAS guidelines, clinical intervention goals, and public health policies.