Louisiana Biomedical Research Network

Matthew Overturf

Link to Pubmed Publications

University of Louisiana at Monroe

Project Title

The Effects of Environmental Contaminants on the Development of Neurobehavioral Disorders

Funding Period

Startup Project (May 1, 2018 - August 18, 2020)


The effects of environmental contaminant (e.g., bisphenol A, organochlorine pesticides, phthalates, etc.) exposure are detrimental to organisms at two major life stages, adult or developing organism. However, there is a lack of understanding to the degree at which maternal transfer of environmental contaminants during pregnancy or even early exposure to these compounds may have on the potential to cause neurobehavioral disorders. Thus, the goal of this project will be to determine if exposure to environmental contaminants early in development or if maternal transfer of contaminants result in neurobehavioral disorders such as those relating to learning ability, emotional distress, and memory. The model organism for these studies will be the zebrafish (Danio rerio). Zebrafish are an ideal model because they are small and robust, cheaper to maintain than mice, and share similar genetic homology to humans. These fish have also been used to assess behavioral abnormalities relating to exposure of environmental contaminants. These compounds will be delivered through either food-borne or water-borne exposures to mimic direct (ingestion) or indirect exposures, respectively. In addition to behavior studies, mechanisms to which the contaminants impair neurobehavioral changes will be assessed to define novel biomarkers for the early onset of neurobehavioral disorders. Results from this study may provide insight into potential adverse effects of environmental contaminants on neurobehavioral changes in humans such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and aggression. In addition, the detection of new biomarkers relating to early onset of neurobehavioral impairments may be identified which can greatly benefit early diagnosis of these disorders.