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Your Environment. Your Health.

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Genomic and Proteomic Biomarkers of Biological Responses to Exposure

Coral Lamartiniere


Project Description


It is our goal to develop genomic and proteomic technologies for identification of biomarkers of exposure in girls and in rats exposed to bisphenol A (BPA), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), and genistein that are measurable in the population. Our specific aims are:


  1. to use microarray technology to measure genomic biomarkers of exposure from blood serum and buffy coat, and buccal swabs from (pre)pubertal girls and rats exposed to these chemicals
  2. to develop sensitive and reproducible methods (2D-PAGE and mass spectrometry) to measure protein biomarkers of exposure in blood plasma of (pre)pubertal girls and rats that are expressing high and low levels of these chemicals.


An important aspect of this application is not only  to develop new and use current state-of-the-art technology for identification of biomarkers of biological responses, but also to use a rat model of exposure and a human cohort in similar biological conditions (puberty) undergoing exposures to the same compounds. This unique experimental design will compare the genomic and proteomic changes in a target organ, in this case the rat mammary gland, with the presence of peripheral changes in the animals.


Whereas in humans we cannot detect  changes in the target tissue, the experimental data will give us unbiased information on the target tissue and the peripheral tissue/body fluids that will be important to bioinformatically correlate with the human data. These studies can have a double relevance by first customizing biomarkers identified in a custom array for genes and proteins and second providing the basis for future assessment of these changes to evaluate risk in a larger population.


This body of work will be possible because we are utilizing previously procured samples from (pre)pubescent girls identified to have high chemical exposures and will have circulating hormone concentrations as indicators of puberty and exposure. From girls (and rats) going through puberty whose urine identifies them as being exposed to high or low concentrations of specific environmental chemicals, we will measure differentially regulated genes and proteins from the blood as biological indicators of chemical exposure. In the rats, we will also measure genes and proteins in the mammary glands as a function of exposure and puberty to gain insight into how environmental chemical exposure early in life predisposes for breast cancer later in life.

See this project's publications and patents 

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