Reproduction@Estarreja: is female reproductive potential at risk?


Project Summary

Exposure to toxicants generated from (or used in) industrial processes has contributed towards the decrease of female fertility and reproductive potential worldwide. Considering the increased risk of exposure in the modern world due to industrial growth, it is crucial the assessment of the reproductive potential of women living in an industrial-related area, particularly if there is already a history of local contamination.The city of Estarreja presents the second largest chemical complex in Portugal and contamination of heavy metals was earlier reported. After efforts to counteract this issue, the fertility and reproductive potential of women from Estarreja is still lacking. Importantly, heavy metal measurements in women folicular fluid will be performed and using an in vitro animal model system developed in our lab we will further unveil if female reproductive potential is affected. Oocyte maturation and both oocyte and cumulus cells viability will be evaluated as well as indicators of oxidative stress. Finally, other parameters of oocyte quality such as ooplasmic volume, spindle configuration and chromossomal alignment will be analyzed. Further lectures addressing environmental pollution and its implications on female, and general human fertility will be given to infants and teenagers at schools of the municipality.

Main Goals

- Establish if in Estarreja, female reproductive potential is more prone to be affected than the one from females living in a different scenario with no obvious exposure. If so, this study will help pinpoint the need of monitoring other related and relevant places in Portugal,

- Help determining toxicants’ reproductive signatures, and lead to more in depth studies that will allow to completely acknowledge and explore the mechanisms of action involved. Based on that, strategies can be developed to ameliorate/counteract such female reproductive dysfuntion.

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