A study that aims to understand the impact of industrial contaminants on female infertility, so that, in the future, preventive measures and mitigation of their harmful effects are taken, led by Renata Tavares, from the Center for Neurosciences and Cell Biology (CNC) of University of Coimbra (UC), has just received funding from LabEx DRIIHM (Dispositif de Recherche Interdisciplinaire sur les Interactions Hommes-Milieux).
It is already the second consecutive funding granted by this French institution, which adds 13 observatories dedicated to the study of human-environment interaction worldwide, to the CNC team for the study of infertility.
Knowing that the increased risk of exposure to industrial contaminants has a severe impact on the fertility of populations susceptible to them, this two-year study will focus on assessing the reproductive potential of women living and/or work in Estarreja, a city in the Aveiro district that has the second-largest Portuguese chemical complex, and where heavy metal contamination incidents have been described previously.
«Considering the increased risk of exposure due to the industrial growth that we have witnessed in the last decades, it has become preponderant to evaluate the reproductive potential of the inhabitants/workers of heavily industrialized areas, especially if there is a local history of contamination, as in the case of Estarreja», explains researcher Renata Tavares.
«With the information obtained in this project, we not only intend to understand if the female reproductive potential in this area will be affected, but it will help to understand if it will be necessary to monitor other similar places in Portugal. This project may also highlight the need to implement more urgent measures to decrease contamination/pollution in Portugal, as well as worldwide», he clarifies.
The CNC researcher also mentions that this project will also contribute to the discovery of new mechanisms of action of these contaminants and with this the long-term development of strategies to mitigate/treat female infertility.
In addition to Renata Tavares, Ana Paula Sousa, Maria Inês Alfaiate and Maria Soares, also CNC researchers, and João Ramalho-Santos, professor at the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra (FCTUC) and Teresa Almeida-Santos , professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Coimbra (FMUC).