Project 2 – Research Translation Activities

Project 2 is working with placental and extraplacental cells in culture and accumulates evidence that supports a model by which toxicants contribute to preterm birth through increased generation of reactive oxygen species and subsequent activation of pathways relevant to labor onset, including inflammatory, cell death, and prostaglandin pathways. By showing that toxicants activate pathways associated with labor, our data provide a foundation to further explore biological explanations for environmental pollutant exposure associations with preterm birth.

Translation as defined by CTSA standard of bench to bedside

Findings from Project 2 have the potential for translation into tangible deliverables. Improved understanding of mechanisms of parturition, particularly those mechanisms that may be activated by environmental contaminants, will lead to development of new laboratory assays to assess environmental chemical risk for preterm birth. In particular, identification of a role for oxidative stress in the cascade of biologic responses between environmental toxicant exposures and preterm birth will validate measures of oxidative stress as response biomarkers for identifying risks for preterm birth. Moreover, because oxidative stress activates other pathways associated with preterm birth, such as inflammation and cell death, results from this project will add validation to response biomarkers of these pathways. Ultimately, improved definition of environmental contaminant risks to pregnancy will assist protective public health agencies, the medical community and the public to accelerate development of targeted strategies to reduce risks for preterm birth.

Community outreach

Publications from PROTECT Project 2 (Tetz et al., 2013) and PROTECT Project 1 (Ferguson, Cantonwine et al., 2014) were included in the agenda of a 2015 US EPA Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Public Science Meeting on risk assessment of phthalates (EPA Conference Center, Arlington, VA; February 25-26, 2015). Dr. Loch-Caruso participated in the IRIS meeting as a National Research Council-invited discussant. Other activities of Dr. Loch-Caruso in the past year include: providing advice and feedback for an information pamphlet and video for community residents about oxidative stress, both of which are available through a University of Michigan website and the PEPH Resources; advising and participating in a Detroit community engagement tour; and meeting with key community and regulatory stakeholders from Detroit and Michigan to discuss environmental health concerns.