Experimental model systems

The objective of developing and applying experimental model systems is to understand the mechanisms by which environmental factors affect health, and to promote alternatives to animal experimentation. Model systems presently being developed include:

• Organotypical cell cultures representing target organs and effector cells such as lungs, blood vessels, liver, placenta, monocytes and macrophages, and combinations thereof.

• Synthetical biological systems based on lipid membranes and nano-vesicles which are used in attempts to gain full control of experimental conditions and to develop screening tools.

• Animal experimental models which are optimized through the use of transgenic animals that have a specific (genetic) susceptibility and/or allows for the visualization of effects through specific reporter systems.

The experimental models are particularly designed to study oxidative stress, inflammation, DNA damage, DNA repair, and vascular, associative, affective, cognitive and neurological functioning. Animal models are used to examine the effects of intrauterine and early exposures on subsequent reproductive, behavioural, affective, cognitive, and vascular functioning.