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Differential Effects in Mammalian Cells Induced by Chemical Mixtures in Environmental Biota As Profiled Using Infrared Spectroscopy

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date15/12/2011
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Number of pages7
Original languageEnglish


Environmental contaminants accumulate in many organisms and induce a number of adverse effects. As contaminants mostly occur in the environment as mixtures, it remains to be fully understood which chemical interactions induce the most important toxic responses. In this study, we set out to determine the effects of chemical contaminants extracted from Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus) eggs (collected from the UK coast from three sampling years (1987, 1990, and 1992) on cell cultures using infrared (IR) spectroscopy with computational data handling approaches. Gannet extracts were chemically analyzed for different contaminants, and MCF-7 cell lines were treated for 24 h in a dose-related manner with individual-year extracts varying in their poly-brominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) to polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) ratios. Treated cellular material was then fixed and interrogated using attenuated total reflection Fourier-transform IR (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy; resultant IR spectra were computationally analyzed to derive dose-response relationships and to identify biomarkers associated with each contaminant mixture treatment. The results show distinct biomarkers of effect are related to each contamination scenario, with an inverse relationship with dose observed. This study suggests that specific contaminant mixtures induce cellular alterations in the DNA/RNA spectral region that are most pronounced at low doses. It also suggests alterations in the "biochemical-cell fingerprint" of IR spectra can be indicative of mixture exposures.