Superfund Research Program
NIEHS's Papers of the Year include three manuscripts from the UCSD SRP Center
Three papers from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center were selected by senior NIEHS staff as 2015 Papers of the Year. The three papers were chosen out of more than 2500 published manuscripts from extramural and intramural NIEHS funding to represent three of the 13 papers from research funded by grants. All UCSD SRP Center papers were about toxicant-induced liver damage, including fibrosis and cancer, which are focus areas for the UCSD SRP Center.
In one paper, researchers led by UCSD SRP Center Scientific Director Michael Karin, Ph.D., discovered a population of liver cells that are better at regenerating liver tissue than ordinary liver cells, or hepatocytes. The study is the first to identify these so-called hybrid hepatocytes and show that they are able to regenerate liver tissue without giving rise to cancer. (Synopsis)
In another paper, researchers led by David Brenner, M.D. found that bacteria and other microbes in the intestines prevent liver fibrosis, or scarring, in mice. It is the first study to show a beneficial role of intestinal microbiota in maintaining liver homeostasis and preventing fibrosis from chronic damage to the liver. (Synopsis)
Finally, researchers led by Robert Tukey, Ph.D., the UCSD SRP Center Program Director, with partners at the UC Davis SRP Center, report that mice with long-term exposure to the antibacterial agent triclosan experienced fibrosis and acceleration of cancer development in the liver. These findings add to earlier reports that this widely used antimicrobial agent can disrupt hormones and impair muscle contraction. (Synopsis)
Tukey also recently published a comprehensive review on the environmental and human health effects of triclosan as an environmental toxicant.
The UCSD SRP Center’s high-impact scientific publications foster research translation and suggest new opportunities for collaboration among researchers in environmental health science, environmental science, and engineering.
SRP Researcher Uncovers History of Industrial Sites and Green Spaces in Providence
A Brown University team, led by Community Engagement Core (CEC) leader Scott Frickel, Ph.D., is working to uncover the history of green spaces in Providence, Rhode Island. Green spaces are regarded by many as beneficial to the health of urban dwellers.
With funding from an SRP grant, Frickel added Providence to an existing study that looks at how industrial sites have changed over decades in New Orleans, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Portland, Oregon. In the study, he is including how green spaces are changing, and he sent a team of students to document four Providence neighborhoods. For nearly a year, they photographed and noted the location of any kind of green space. With this information, they plan to map the data to understand how green spaces are organized and distributed across neighborhoods.
"[They are looking at] abandoned lots, forested nooks and crannies, and hillsides that are just there unused – maybe fenced, maybe not – to get a sense of what kind of green space actually exists in a neighborhood and whether that varies from one neighborhood to another," said Frickel.
Frickel also wants to document the origins of these green spaces. In the other four cities, Frickel found many parks, playgrounds, and even daycare centers were once industrial sites. A similar record may be a concern for Providence, a port city with a long history of industrial pollution.
Frickel's research team now has two historical databases: one for industrial sites over the past 50 years and another for urban green spaces since the 1930s. The project is in its early stage. Frickel and his students will begin making sense of the collected data in the spring of 2016.
For more information on the project, visit Rhode Island Public Radio.
Dartmouth-Sponsored Food Collaborative Convenes in Hanover
The Collaborative on Food with Arsenic and associated Risk and Regulation (C-FARR) gathered in Hanover, New Hampshire, November 2 to address issues related to sources of arsenic and exposure in people through the food they eat. C-FARR, which includes a team of arsenic scientists and stakeholders from around the country, is sponsored by the Dartmouth College Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center and the Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center at Dartmouth.
To date, arsenic regulation has focused on levels in drinking water due to the prevalence of arsenic in groundwater in certain regions of the world. However, recent studies have shown that food is also a considerable source of arsenic exposure for people. Recent research has revealed that arsenic is taken up in food crops, particularly rice, and has resulted in significant exposure in humans. Arsenic also has been found in foods sweetened with rice products and apple and grape juices.
The C-FARR workshop in November brought together researchers studying arsenic in soils, uptake into biota, dietary exposures to arsenic via rice and other foods, and risk associated with exposure to organic and inorganic arsenicals that occur in food. They focused on six topics, which will form the basis for six synthesis papers: sources of arsenic in soil and groundwater, food diet and exposure, exposure to organic arsenic species from seafood, arsenic uptake and metabolism in rice, human arsenic exposure through rice and potential health consequences, and moving from arsenic epidemiology to practical recommendations. Dartmouth SRP Center members provided the welcome, overview, and goals of the workshop and are leading many of the synthesis paper working groups.
Over the next two years, the C-FARR team will gather and analyze data and publish a series of papers. Salient findings from this initiative also will be translated and distributed to public health and policy stakeholders.