Detecting exposure to environmental organic toxins in individual cells:
towards development of a micro-fabricated device
A new method is being developed to quickly screen for the human exposure potential to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and organochlorines (OCs). The development involves two key elements: identifying suitable signals that represent intracellular changes that are specific to PAH and OC exposure, and constructing a device to guide the biological cell growth so that signals from individual cells are consistent and reproducible. We are completing the identification of suitable signals by using synchrotron radiation-based (SR) Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectromicroscopy in the mid-infrared region (4000-400 cm-1). Distinct changes have been observed in the IR spectra after treatment of human cells in culture medium with PAHs and OCs. The potential use of this method for detecting exposure to PAHs and OCs has been tested and compared to a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay that quantifies increased expression of the CYP1A1 gene in response to exposure to PAHs or OCs.