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DisrupTox - Edaphic Endocrine Disruption Assessment Tool Box
Coordinator - Mónica Amorim
Programme - PTDC/BIA-BDE/75690/2006
Execution dates - 2008-01-01 - 2011-07-30 (43 Months)
Funding Entity - Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia
Funding for CESAM - 140000 €
Total Funding - 140000 €
Proponent Institution - Universidade de Aveiro


In the past few decades there has been a growing concern about the possible consequences of an exposure to xenobiotic compounds which are able to modulate or cause a disruption in the endocrine system, the so called Endocrine Disruptor Compounds (EDCs). This concern is not focused only towards human health but also to the impacts at the wildlife and environment, being already a priority in research and legislation in the European Union (EC, 1999; 2001 & 2004). Changes of the endocrine function caused by an EDC can be felt when interfering with the syntheses, secretion, transport, action or elimination of natural hormones in the organism which are responsible for homeostasis mechanisms, reproduction, growth and/or behaviour. Different kinds of chemicals (industrial and even of domestic use) can be endocrine disruptors which mimetise, amplify or reduce the action of hormones. The consequences of the exposure to such compounds in the structure and function of the community are not always drastic and immediate. Through small biochemical and molecular changes, these contaminants may interfere with different systems (e.g., reproductive, endocrine, immunological, and nervous) in different life stages of non-target species, causing medium and long term effects at population level. These pollutants have then the potential to originate a population decrease, which recovery might be difficult even after the regulation of activities involving these compounds. Because the effects at the population/community level are only detected, in most cases, after several generations exposed to sub-lethal levels of pollutants, there is a need to develop and validate quantifiable tools of fast detection ("early warning signals") which can foresee any changes in the structure of the population/community, and that work through the inhibition of vital processes in particular species. These biomarkers might be considered as a measure of the first toxicological interactions between the toxicant and the biological receiver. This interaction induces a cascade of events, starting at sub-cellular level (e.g., gene transcription disturbances, metabolic path interference) and that, in last instance, carries to hazardous effects at the individual level and possibly to a higher level of biological organization. Effects studied in conventional ecotoxicity tests (changes in growth, reproduction and survival) can be considered as a final result of the cumulative molecular and cellular level effects. In parallel to this aspect of evaluating the effects of EDCs and to develop and validate these early waning tools for non-target soil organisms, there is also the need to transpose this knowledge to more realistic exposure scenarios. This is particularly true in cases where multiple exposures can happen, especially when assessing the toxic potential of contaminated sites. In this context in situ tests have a promising potential. The data gathered on these types of bioassays does not require prior knowledge of the type nor the concentrations of chemicals present in the soil. Moreover it allows the assessment of toxicity of complex mixtures and integrates the effects of exposure time and exposure conditions. As such, they have the advantages of laboratory assays without the need for extrapolation to effects in the field. These traits make them a promising and robust diagnostic approach to assess toxic effects to soil organisms. Summing up, this project intends to develop and validate of a set of tools (biochemical, molecular and histological biomarkers) to assess the effects of endocrine disruptor compounds in soil organisms linking different levels of biological organization and linking laboratory to field exposure. European Commission. Commission Staff Working Document on implementation of the Community Strategy for Endocrine Disrupters - a range of substances suspected of interfering with the hormone systems of humans and wildlife (COM (1999) 706) SEC(2004) 1372 European Commission. COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL AND THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT on the implementation of the Community Strategy for Endocrine Disrupters - a range of substances suspected of interfering with the hormone systems of humans and wildlife . COM 262 (2001) European Commission. COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL AND THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT. Community Strategy for Endocrine Disrupters. COM (99)706 (1999).




Members on this project
Amadeu Soares
Investigator

grant holder

Investigator / grant holder
Mónica J.B. Amorim
Principal Investigator
Susana Loureiro
Investigator

grant holder

CESAM Funding: