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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 (2008-2014)

The University of Kentucky is unique among land grant universities in that all colleges, including Medicine and Agriculture, are located on the same campus. This constellation of programs has enabled the UK-SBRP to develop uniquely productive collaborations across diverse disciplines. Such an environment will enable a clearer study of the overall theme of UK's SBRP research, which 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.

Given the abundance of Superfund chemicals and widespread distribution in the ecosystem, it is unlikely that remediation alone will be sufficient to address health risks. Nutritional intervention, thus, becomes a sensible way to address health problems associated with environmental pollutants. In UK's competing renewal, the Program recognizes this dual need for sensing/remediation and biomedical intervention through nutrition by proposing five integrated projects. These projects will concentrate on chlorinated organics (e.g., polychlorinated biphenyls) 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 UK's SBRP is to explore the paradigm that nutrition can modify Superfund chemical toxicity.

All biomedical projects will focus on chronic diseases associated with vascular dysfunction, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer metastasis, and obesity-related abdominal aortic aneurysms; the projects will utilize a similar dietary fat regiment to study nutrient/toxicant interactions. There will be significant cross-talk with non-biomedical projects, which will explore novel techniques for both remediation (detoxification) and biosensors associated with detection of PCBs and other chlorinated organics. Results from the interdisciplinary research will be utilized for information/education, 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. UK's SBRP research may lead to novel dietary recommendations at the national level for populations at risk, improving the health of people residing near Superfund sites.

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