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University of Kentucky

Superfund Research Program

Nutrition and Superfund Chemical Toxicity

Center Director: Bernhard Hennig
Grant Number: P42ES007380
Funding Period: 1997-2025

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Summary (2005-2008)

The University of Kentucky has a tradition of excellence in interdisciplinary research. The University of Kentucky SBRP focuses on the toxicology of Superfund chemicals and how health effects of exposure can be modulated by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors, namely genetics and nutrition, respectively. Five biomedical and two non-biomedical projects concentrate on chlorinated organics (e.g., polychlorinated biphenyls, trichloroethylene) as model toxins. Chlorinated organics are prevalent in most Superfund sites, including those found in Kentucky. Preliminary findings suggest that nutrition and dietary habits can markedly influence mechanisms of toxicity of the above-mentioned Superfund chemicals. Thus, a major objective of the UK SBRP is to explore the paradigm that nutrition can modify Superfund chemical toxicity. The investigators hypothesize that highly refined diets, i.e., diets high in fats or calories and low in fruits and vegetables (antioxidants), are associated with an observed national epidemic in chronic diseases, and that populations associated with such dietary habits are more prone to Superfund chemical insult. The biomedical projects focus on chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. In addition, the non-biomedical projects are exploring novel techniques for both remediation (detoxification) and biosensors associated with PCBs and other chlorinated organics. Results from this interdisciplinary research will be utilized for informative/educational, technology transfer, training, policy and translational purposes as part of the objectives of the Research Translation, Community Outreach, and Training Cores. Nutrition may be the most sensible means to develop primary prevention strategies of diseases associated with many environmental toxic insults. Thus, this research may lead to novel dietary recommendations at the national level for populations at risk, i.e., people residing near Superfund sites.


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