MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Heather M. Stapleton PhD
Dan and Bunny Gabel Associate Professor of Environmental Ethics and Sustainable Environmental Management
EEH Program Chair
Nicholas School of the Environment
Durham, North Carolina 27708
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Building materials and products common to most homes (e.g. furniture, TVs, carpets, etc) are often treated with synthetic chemicals, which migrate out of the products over time and accumulate in house dust, where residents can be exposed to these chemicals on a daily basis.
This study assessed approximately forty chemicals commonly detected and measured in house dust samples for their ability to stimulate the development of fat cells, using a mouse precursor fat cell model. Approximately two thirds of these chemicals were able to promote lipid accumulation by these cells and/or stimulate the proliferation of the precursor fat cells. We then assessed eleven extracts of indoor house dust samples (containing mixtures of these chemicals) and exposed our cells to these extracts, finding that even low levels of these extracts were sufficient to promote the accumulation of lipids and/or the proliferation of the fat precursor cells.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: There is a growing interest in understanding factors that may contribute to increases in metabolic disorders (e.g. diabetes) and obesity, and the idea that exposure to various environmental chemicals may contribute to this adverse health trend has received more attention of late. This work suggests that exposure to these types of potential metabolic disruptors, as they are called, may be more prevalent than previously realized. Our study reported that 2/3 of our 40+ common house-dust contaminants were active in promoting fat cell development in a cell model. Further, very low levels of indoor house dust were sufficient to promote the development of mature fat cells and proliferation of these precursor cells, levels well below those estimated to be consumed by a child on a daily basis, according to models developed by the EPA.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: We are currently trying to reproduce these findings in a larger collection of dust samples, and are hoping to identify which chemical or mixtures of chemicals are driving this activity. Additional work in animal models is also needed to determine if exposure to the mixtures found in house dust would result in metabolic effects and weight gain in a whole whole organism model.
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Citation: Christopher D. Kassotis, Kate Hoffman, Heather M. Stapleton.
Characterization of Adipogenic Activity of House Dust Extracts and Semi-Volatile Indoor Contaminants in 3T3-L1 Cells. Environmental Science & Technology, 2017; DOI: 1021/acs.est.7b01788
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