Are developing heart valves sensitive to environmental chemicals?

January 23, 2014, Carnegie Institution for Science
Are developing heart valves sensitive to environmental chemicals?
The upper image is a three-day-old zebrafish larva showing activation of green fluorescent protein expression in the liver (arrow) following exposure to an estrogenic compound. An unexpected response was also found in the developing heart valves (bottom images, arrows), show in their open (left) and closed (right) states. Credit: Daniel Gorelick

Exposure to environmental endocrine disrupters, such as bisphenol A, which mimic estrogen, is associated with adverse health effects. Bisphenol A is commonly found in plastic bottles and plastic food containers. New research from a team including Carnegie's Daniel Gorelick and Marnie Halpern on the effects of these chemicals on zebrafish shows that embryonic heart valves could be particularly in danger. It is published by Environmental Health Perspectives.

Estrogen hormones are important in all stages of life. They work by binding to receptors inside a cell, which then travel to the nucleus and act on the DNA by turning select genes on and off. But some synthetic chemicals mimic these estrogen hormones by also binding to the receptors. Exposure to them during early development is associated with increased risk of cancers and abnormal formation of the reproductive tract. So detecting such chemicals and identifying their mechanisms of action is of great importance for developmental scientists.

Gorelick, the lead author, Halpern and Alice Hung of Carnegie, along with Luke Iwanowicz and Vicki Blazer of the Fish Health Branch of the U.S. Geological Survey, used genetically modified zebrafish that show activity on a cell's DNA.

Their findings indicate that these specially developed zebrafish are great tools not only for detecting environmental endocrine disruptors from river water, but also for identifying which tissues are targeted by these endocrine disruptors

Unexpectedly, estrogen receptors in the developing were activated by some water samples, which had not been observed previously. This raises interesting questions about the role of estrogen in valve formation and whether environmental chemicals could contribute to valve abnormalities.

Explore further: Environmental estrogens affect early developmental activity in zebrafish

Related Stories

Environmental estrogens affect early developmental activity in zebrafish

June 21, 2012
Chemicals in the environment that mimic estrogen can strongly influence the development of humans and other animals. New research to be presented at the 2012 International Zebrafish Development and Genetics Conference, held ...

Combinations of estrogen-mimicking chemicals found to strongly distort hormone action

March 28, 2013
For years, scientists have been concerned about chemicals in the environment that mimic the estrogens found in the body. In study after study, researchers have found links between these "xenoestrogens" and such problems as ...

Fracking chemicals disrupt hormone function

December 16, 2013
A controversial oil and natural gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, uses many chemicals that can disrupt the body's hormones, according to new research accepted for publication in The Endocrine ...

Study finds that TAML activators don't interfere with development of zebrafish embryos

July 22, 2013
A family of molecules developed at Carnegie Mellon University to break down pollutants in water is one step closer to commercial use. Study results published online in the journal Green Chemistry show that the molecules, ...

Recommended for you

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

Study reveals what sleep talkers have to say

January 12, 2018
A team of researchers with members from several institutions in France has conducted a study regarding sleep talking and has found that most sleep talking is not only negative in nature, but involves a large amount of swearing. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.