Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Extramural Research

Grantee Research Project Results

Grantee Research Project Results

Liver and the Metabolic Syndrome

EPA Grant Number: R834594C001
Subproject: this is subproject number 001 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R834594
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Formative Center for the Evaluation of Environmental Impacts on Fetal Development
Center Director: Boekelheide, Kim
Title: Liver and the Metabolic Syndrome
Investigators: Gruppuso, Phillip
Institution: Brown University , Thanos Scientific Consulting Group , Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island
EPA Project Officer: Louie, Nica
Project Period: December 1, 2009 through November 30, 2012
RFA: Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers: Formative Centers (with NIEHS) (2009)
Research Category: Children's Health



The purpose of this project is to develop and employ a model for studying the effects of arsenic on liver development. The project is predicated on the relationship between altered liver development and risk for metabolic syndrome. The role of the liver in metabolic regulation and insulin sensitivity is well established. The association between intrauterine growth retardation, metabolic programming and metabolic syndrome in the offspring is also established, having been shown in recent years to involve epigenetic mechanisms. The goal of this project is to develop a model which can be used to test the hypothesis that, like alterations in the nutrient environment, intrauterine arsenic exposure induces epigenetic changes in the liver that predispose to metabolic syndrome in the adult. The proposal is based on published evidence that intrauterine arsenic exposure induces epigenetic changes in liver development. The proposal also derives from our extensive characterization of growth-regulating signaling mechanisms in the fetal rat and our identification of novel biomarkers for the fetal hepatocyte phenotype. We have shown that late term fetal hepatocytes, unlike adult rat hepatocytes, show mutagen-independent proliferation and are resistance to the anti-proliferative effects of rapamycin, an inhibitor of the nutrient-sensing mTOR pathway. The aforementioned biomarkers include a number of proteins involved in growth factor signaling, cell cycle control and translation control. We have also observed that rapamycin-induced inhibition of mTOR modulates gene expression in a manner most consistent with epigenetic mechanisms.

Expected Results:

We have developed the following specific aims: Specific Aim 1 will be to develop a model and the liver phenotype (defined as above) is maintained. In Specific Aim 2, we will demonstrate that manipulation of the host environment will induce changes in liver tissues. We will examine the effects of host dietary restriction and rapamycin administration to examine the effect on liver growth and gene expression. Specific Aim 3 will be to characterize and contrast the epigenetic consequences of host dietary restriction and rapamycin with the effects of arsenic exposure. The significance of this project lies in its potential to develop a model system to study mechanisms for programming of human fetal liver, something that is not possible with available methodologies.

Supplemental Keywords:

in utero exposure, mammalian, metals, bisphenol A, developmental biology, perinatal programming; environmental management, Scientific Discipline, Health, Risk Assessment, Biology, Risk Assessments, Health Risk Assessment, bioavailability, exposure assessment, biochemical research, intrauterine exposure, developmental effects, perinatal exposure, children's health, biological pathways, Health, Scientific Discipline, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, Health Risk Assessment, Risk Assessments, Biology, Risk Assessment, children's health, fetal exposure, biological pathways, bioavailability, developmental effects, perinatal exposure, exposure assessment

Main Center Abstract and Reports:
R834594    Formative Center for the Evaluation of Environmental Impacts on Fetal Development

Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
R834594C001 Liver and the Metabolic Syndrome
R834594C002 Prostate and Endocrine Disruption
R834594C003 Lung, Arsenic Exposure, and Tissue Remodeling

Top of Page

The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

Jump to main content.