Assessment of Daily Exposure to Metals and Maternal Individual Susceptibility as Factors of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease – METALORIGINS

Project participants:



Project head: Martina Piasek (2017 – 2020), Jasna Jurasović (2021 – 2022)

Participants: Martina Piasek (since 1 Jan 2021), Jasna Jurasović (until 31 Dec 2020), Daria Pašalić, Sandra Stasenko, Tatjana Orct, Karmen Branović Čakanić, Alica Pizent, Maja Lazarus, Irena Brčić Karačonji, Nataša Brajenović, Anja Mikolić, Blanka Tariba Lovaković, Ankica Sekovanić, Antonija Sulimanec Grgec, Tanja Živković Semren (until 29 Feb 2020), Zorana Kljaković-Gašpić, Jelena Kovačić, Andreja Jurič (until 29 Feb 2020), Lana Škrgatić, Iva Miškulin

Project code: HRZZ-IP-2016-06-1998

Duration: 1 Jun 2017 – 31 March 2022

Funding: HRK 1,000,000.00


Prenatal insults, such as maternal nutrient deficiencies, toxic metals’ exposure and cigarette smoking may disrupt fetal growth not only directly, but may also have impact on postnatal health across the life course increasing a risk for various diseases in adulthood. The project will assess health benefits and risks of unavoidable, daily environmental exposure and intake of nutritionally essential and main toxic metals/metalloids in a vulnerable population group of women during child-bearing period that, along with maternal individual (non-genetic and genetic) susceptibility, may alter intrauterine fetal epigenetic regulation and thus may be factors of developmental origins of health and disease (paradigm DOAHD). The exposures via food and tobacco smoking (based on self-reporting and smoking quantified by maternal urine cotinine) and health risks will be assessed in a cross-sectional epidemiological study using methods of human biological monitoring in 150 postpartum women-infant pairs after term vaginal deliveries in a maternity hospital (in addition to previously collected data and similar samples in >200 participants). Biomarkers of exposure/intake will be toxic (Cd, Pb, Hg, As) and essential (Ca, Fe, Zn, Cu, Se) metal/metalloid levels in maternal blood/serum and urine, umbilical cord blood/serum and placental tissue. Biomarkers of effects will be antioxidant enzymes (SOD, GPx), metallothionein (MT), and placental steroid hormones (P4, E2). Associations of maternal metal/metalloid and MT levels with MT2A genetic polymorphisms will be assessed. Potential postnatal health risks due to developmental programming changes will be evaluated by epigenetic markers, DNA methylation and microRNA expression levels. Sensitive and sophisticated methods and equipment for human sample preparations and analyses will be used. Unique contribution in biomedical research will be providing novel data in toxicogenomics–environmental epigenetics of metals, first of that kind in Croatia.