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MRC Toxicology Unit


Molecular mechanisms of toxicity arising from exposure to biofuel emissions

Dr Liza Selley

In response to concerns over fossil fuel consumption, combustion of biomass and biofuel alternatives has been encouraged in Europe. While cleaner than fossil diesel emissions in terms of sulphur, CO and hydrocarbons, biodiesel emissions are rich in ultrafine particles and NOx and targeted studies indicate that they induce stronger inflammation and oxidative stress.

Early omics screens demonstrated that the molecular interactions that drive pulmonary responses to biodiesel emissions differ from those caused by fossil-diesel exhaust. Combining mRNA and miRNA sequencing with epigenomic arrays, my research aims to characterise transcriptional dysregulation in the lungs of individuals who have been exposed to biodiesel emissions under controlled chamber conditions. This work is accompanied by a multi-platform metabonomic urinalysis, which explores non-invasively accessible signatures of susceptibility to biodiesel emission toxicity.

Relatively little is known of wood smoke toxicity, but exposure has been shown to induce inflammation, cell death and genotoxicity in airway models. Mirroring my biodiesel study, I aim to characterise transcriptional dysregulation in the pulmonary tissue and activated inflammatory cells of exposed volunteers.



I’m a Scientist…Get me out of here! Blog piece for MRC Insight, 2018

Ghezzi et al (2017). Oxidative Stress and Inflammation Induced by Environmental and Psychological Stressors: A Biomarker Perspective. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling.

Braking perceptions of traffic pollution, winning essay for MRC Max Perutz competition, 2016