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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

South Carolina: Center for Oceans and Human Health on Climate Change Interactions Study Finds Environmental Toxin Increases Risk of Intestinal Problems for Those with Liver Disease

Scientists from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences-funded Center for Oceans and Human Health on Climate Change Interactions have published research findings in the journal, Scientific Reports, a premier journal of Nature Publishing Group, on the impact of the environmental toxin, microcystin, on the intestinal tract. Led by environmental health sciences associate professor and Environmental Health and Disease Laboratory director, Dr. Saurabh Chatterjee, the researchers found that microcystin, which is known to primarily affect the liver, targets the microbiome of the gastrointestinal tract and increases the risk of intestinal inflammation for those with underlying nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

The team also found that exposure to microcystin, a component of Harmful Algal Blooms or HABS with underlying nonalcoholic fatty liver disease resulted in these additional major findings: worsened gut microbiome changes; worsened dysbiosis (i.e., microbial imbalance or maladaptation), which activates the immune system and inflammatory response; gut leaching (i.e., toxins and bacteria passing from the gut to the rest of the body), leading to systemic endotoxemia (i.e., persistent, low-grade inflammation due to increased, circulating endotoxins); exacerbated oxidative stress (i.e., an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract their harmful effects). They further found that this oxidative stress is associated with additional microbial imbalance and inflammation activation and the alteration of abdominal adhesions.

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