Molecular and cellular toxicology and physiology

– Arukwe lab

Prior to overt health and physiological changes, the first interaction between contaminants and organisms occurs at the molecular and cellular levels.

Thus, changes in gene expression as a result of environmental stressors and the subsequent molecular processes that lead to adverse health outcomes may be used as quantitative marker ("biomarker") for cellular, organismal and population effects. An integral emphasis of our research has been on the studies of functional and developmental alterations of wildlife caused by exposure to environmental stressors. The development of exposure, response and effect biomarkers for xenobiotics and xenoestrogens monitoring in freshwater and marine species is one aspect of the research.



A major and pioneering focus of our research is the elucidation of molecular mechanisms of interaction between the estrogen receptors (ERs) and aryl hydrocarbon receptors (AhRs) signaling pathways in species. In addition, we also perform validation of reproductive and physiological parameters as sensitive early warning signals for endocrine-disruptive stress and chemically-induced physiological/health alterations via receptor-mediated process. Our immediate and future research focus is to consolidate on past research expertise and gains by applying toxicogenomics, lipidomics and proteomics approaches in the understanding of adverse outcome pathways (AOPs) after exposure to legacy and emerging environmental contaminants, and how these are influenced by global climate change.

Our research is basic in nature and increases the understanding on the molecular mechanisms behind nuclear receptor regulated processes and how they are influenced by xenobiotics (including complex chemical mixtures) in organisms. In collaboration with other research groups specializing in aquaculture, we also study the environmental and dietary basis for gene expression patterns during reproduction, development and metamorphosis of marine fish species.

Our research group is extensively involved in several projects in Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa and Vietnam aimed at building sustainable academic and research development in developing countries.