A Study of Environmental Toxins in the Development of Atherosclerosis: A Look into the Effects of Polychlorinated Biphenyls on Swine Pulmonary Endothelial Cells
Bennett, Jason B.
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The endothelium is an integral part of the vascular system. This cell layer plays an important role in the homeostasis of the vascular system through the cell's participation in inflammatory response, its regulation of smooth muscle cells and platelets, its role in protecting the vascular system from free radicals, and its traditional role as a blood-tissue barrier. Damage to these endothelial cells would potentially block or alter their functions, resulting in an imbalance in the vascular system. This imbalance could in tum promote the development of different vascular diseases, one of these being atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the development of plaques in vessel walls that can occlude segments of the vascular system. This prevents blood flow which causes ischemia and death of tissue. Atherosclerosis has been hypothesized to begin with an injury to the endothelial cells (EC). This injury, which causes changes in the functions of EC, could allow the development of atherosclerosis to occur. My study initiates the beginning of a greater study to see if polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a persistent and prevalent chemical in our environment, does in fact cause changes in the EC which would al10w atherosclerosis to begin. This study aimed to first see if PCBs do in fact cause damage or changes to EC. If in fact such damage was inflicted upon the EC, then I would further characterize this effect by attempting to find an appropriate concentration of PCBs for continuing experiments. An appropriate concentration would be one that would induce changes but not overt cell death. I evaluated the effects of PCBs on cultured swine pulmonary endothelial cells by looking at changes in cell numbers, protein concentration, lactate dehydrogenase release, and morphology. In these studies I found that PCBs did in fact cause changes in cells and that the optimal concentration for further experimentation would be around 1 µg/ml or 1 part per million (PPM).