Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Cindy Hoorn

Second Advisor

Dr. David Reinhold

Third Advisor

Dr. Leonard Beuving

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are environmental contaminants which have been shown to initiate and promote atherosclerosis and carcinogenesis in various animal species. These findings have been based primarily on the increase in incidence and size of smooth muscle cell tumors in these animals were exposed to benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) or dimethylbenzanthracene (DMBA). The endothelium has also been identified as an important mediator in vascular disease and atherogenesis, although the endothelial response to these PAHs has not been investigated. Thus, the focus of this study was on characterization of the endothelial response to BaP and DMBA. Concentration/response relationships for these chemicals were examined, in addition to evaluation of cellular toxicity and functional changes induced by BaP and DMBA which may suggest a role in the atherogenic process.

In this study, the effects of BaP and DMBA on endothelial morphology, cell proliferation, protein synthesis, monolayer permeability, LDL uptake, and monocyte adherence were characterized. Results indicate that BaP and DMBA are capable of inducing morphological changes as well as changes in cell proliferation and protein content that are time and concentration dependent. Results from functional studies indicate that although neither BaP or DMBA appear to have an effect on monolayer permeability, both chemicals are capable of inducing an increase in LDL uptake and monocyte adherence. Therefore, these results suggest that BaP and DMBA can induce an endothelial response, and may play a role in the atherogenesis.

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