Dr. Wendy Heiger-Bernays (Research Translation Core) presented at Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) North America 34th Annual Meeting last week. Dr. Heiger-Bernays' platform presentation entitled "Characterization of Lead, Arsenic and PAHs in Community Gardens and Municipal Compost: Using Science to Guide Risk Management" was part of the Communities, Ecology, and Health: Making the Commection- Part A session. The presenation focused on work Dr. Heiger-Bernays has been carrying out for several years as part of the BUSRP Research Translation and Science Gardener Collaborative.
BU SRP trainee James Watt tied for first place in the PhD/DrPH category at the Boston University School of Public Health Research Day held last week. His poster entitled Building Fat in Bone: The Role of Environmental Obesogens is part of his Superfund research on Project 3. The event featured posters from BU faculty, PhD, and Masters students and a keynote address about chronic traumatic encephalopathy. To read more about James & his research interests, click here.
ABSTRACT: Building Fat in Bone: The Role of Environmental Obesogens
James Watt, Thomas Webster, Jennifer Schlezinger
Environmental obesogens are a newly recognized category of endocrine-disrupting chemicals thought to contribute to rising rates of obesity in the United States. While obesity is typically regarded as an increase in visceral fat, adipocyte accumulation in bone has been linked to increased fracture risk, lower bone density, and osteoporosis. Exposure to environmental toxicants that activate PPARγ, a regulator of the balance between adipogenesis and osteogenesis, may generate adverse effects in bone. Using primary mouse bone marrow cultures, we tested the hypothesis that PPARγ agonists divert the differentiation pathway of multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells towards adipogenesis and away from osteogenesis. The toxicants included organotins (tributyltin, triphenyltin), a phthalate metabolite (mono-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, MEHP), and brominated flame retardants (tetrabromobisphenol-a, TBBPA, mono-(2-ethylhexyl)tetrabromophthalate, METBP). All of the compounds increased adipogenesis (lipid accumulation, FABP4 expression) and, except for METBP, suppressed osteogenesis (alkaline phosphatase activity, Osterix expression). There was a strong correlation between induction of adipogenesis and suppression of osteogenesis, while the organotins were distinct in their ability to suppress osteogenesis. Current studies are aimed at combinatorial effects of PPARγ-agonist mixtures using dose-effect modeling. As many of these environmental PPARγ ligands suppress bone formation, these studies support the conclusion that they represent significant modulators of human bone health.
A new study by investigators from BU SRP (Project 2, Research Translation, & Training), Dartmouth, and Duke finds gymnasts are exposed to higher levels of flame retardants compared to the general population. The study published in Environmental Science and Technology is available online. The authors have developed the website, Flame Retardants and Gymnastics, to provide flame retardant and gymnastics facts, advise gymnasts on precautionary measures, and facilitate collaboration for further research. Click here to read more about the findings of the study and press release.
Back by popular demand, the BU SRP’s Community Engagement Core offered free soil lead testing to community gardeners in the metro Boston area. The event was co-hosted by The Food Project during their annual Garlic and Compost Festival. The Food Project is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that runs youth development programs which promote sustainable agriculture and access to healthy food. A team of BU staff and students were on site to analyze garden soil samples for lead (Pb) with an X-Ray Fluorescence analyzer (XRF) and help interpret results for attendees. The soil testing station was the latest outreach effort rooted in ongoing work led by Dr. Wendy Heiger-Bernays (BU SRP RTC) to educate gardeners about soil quality and best practices for safe urban agriculture. For the event, Dr. Heiger-Bernays and colleagues developed research-based educational materials for gardeners to guide interpretation of soil results and provide tips for risk management. The materials have been developed by her group at BUSPH, the Science Gardener Collaborative, as part of a larger effort towards decreasing risks associated with growing food in soils known to be contaminated due to human activities. Several of her students were on hand at the event to discuss results and answer gardeners' questions.
The event, on October 19th, was open to the public and took place at the Dudley Greenhouse in Roxbury. The Dudley Greenhouse is a community greenhouse sited on a rehabilitated brownfield. In addition to free soil analyses and consultation, attendees could also purchase compost, garlic, and other produce, as well as engage in other educational activities. We would like to give special thanks to Sadie Richards, (BU MPH grad) of Groundwork Somerville and Ashley Miller of the BU SRP CEC/RTC for coordinating the soil testing station, and BUSPH MPH students Edmarie Martinez-Rodriguez and Currie Touloumtzis for volunteering their time to help communicate soil results to gardeners.