Researchers at the University of California-Riverside have found that exposure to common environmental chemicals, such as plastics, can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease for both parents and their children.
Professor Changcheng Zhou from UC Riverside is conducting further research to better understand the connection between certain gene interactions and heart disease risks. Specifically, the focus is on how these interactions are influenced by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs).
How EDCs damage the body
EDCs are substances that can imitate, hinder, or disrupt the normal functioning of hormones in the human body. These chemicals pose various health risks, such as disruptions in immune system functions, reproduction, and the nervous system. Additionally, certain EDCs have been associated with an elevated risk of cancer. Common sources of exposure to EDCs include plastics, pesticides, industrial solvents, and specific food items.
Among the cardiovascular diseases linked to EDCs is atherosclerosis which is characterised by the gradual accumulation of substances like fats and cholesterol on arterial walls. This buildup results in the hardening and narrowing of arteries, necessitating treatments that can range from lifestyle adjustments to surgical interventions.
Professor Changcheng Zhou expresses gratitude and appreciation for being awarded the NIEHS RIVER grant. This grant will offer the necessary long-term support to conduct innovative and impactful research aligned with the mission of NIEHS.
Microplastics are carriers of ECDs
The researcher said that grant aims to advance knowledge on EDC interactions leading to cardiovascular disease (CVD) susceptibility in individuals and their offspring. The study will also investigate the role of EDCs found in everyday plastics and household items, examining their impact individually and in combination. Additionally, it will explores the potential of microplastics to serve as carriers, facilitating the entry of EDCs into the body and contributing to the development of atherosclerosis.
Building on previous research, Zhou, discovered that EDCs activate the pregnane X receptor (PXR), influencing atherosclerosis. With a new grant, Zhou aims to investigate the interaction between EDCs and PXR in causing atherosclerosis. Using a mouse model, the study will examine cholesterol, ceramide lipids, and potential transgenerational effects on CVD risk.