Superfund Research Program
Persistent Mitochondrial and Epigenetic Effects of Early Life Toxicant Exposure
Year: 2018 2017
Joel N. Meyer, Ph.D., and his researchers developed new methods for exercising nematode worms to improve their mitochondrial function and found that this intervention also protected the worms against the toxicity of some pollutants that poison mitochondria (Hartman et al., 2018). This is exciting both in improving researchers’ understanding of the basic biology of mitochondria and exercise, and in offering a lifestyle intervention that could improve health. Improving understanding of the role of environmental variables on mitochondrial function is an important step towards making the researcher’s analyses of the effects of chemical pollutants on mitochondria more relevant to the real world. Meyer and his researchers also improved and published methods for assessing mitochondrial toxicity in worms (Maurer et al., 2018), which is valuable because this species of worm (Caenorhabditis elegans) is being used more and more as a model in toxicological, as well as basic biological, studies. In another methodological study, the researchers developed, published, and made freely available software that facilitates unbiased, blinded analysis of images in scientific studies (Cothren et al., 2018). This tool will be valuable to researchers in a wide range of fields. Finally, Meyer and his researchers wrote an invited, 20th-anniversary issue review article for Toxicological Sciences that highlights cutting-edge research in the area of mitochondrial toxicity (Meyer et al., 2018).