Maria R Amezaga

University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom

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Publications (16)52.52 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Exposure of female fetuses to environmental chemicals (ECs) during pregnancy results in a disturbed ovarian adult phenotype. We investigated the influence of pre- and/or post-conception exposure to low-level mixtures of ECs on the structure and function of the fetal ovine ovary. We examined ovarian morphology, expression of oocyte and granulosa cell-specific genes and proteome. Female fetuses were collected at day 110 of gestation, from dams exposed continuously until, and after mating, by grazing in pastures treated with sewage sludge as a fertiliser (TT) or in control fields treated with inorganic fertiliser (CC). In addition, in a cross-over design, fetal ovaries were collected from dams maintained on sludge pastures up to the time of mating but then transferred to control pastures (TC) and, reciprocally, those transferred from control to treated pastures at mating (CT). On examination, the proportion of type 1a follicles (activating primordial follicles) was significantly lower in animals from the CT groups compared with CC and TT groups (P<0.05). Of the 23 ovarian gene transcripts studied, 14 were altered in the ovaries of exposed fetuses (CT, TC, and TT) relative to controls, with the largest number of changes observed in cross-exposure pattern groups (CT or TC). Continuous EC exposure (TT) produced fewer transcript alterations and only two genes (INHBA and GSN) presented differential profiles between CC and TT. Fetal ovarian proteome analysis (2-DE gels) showed, across all exposure groups, 86 differentially expressed protein spots compared to controls. Animals in the CT group exhibited the highest number (53) while TC and TT presented the same number of affected protein spots (42). Fetal ovarian proteins with altered expression included MVP (major vault protein) and several members of the heat-shock family (HSPA4L, HSP90AA1 and HSF1). The present findings indicate that continuous maternal EC exposure before and during gestation, are less deleterious for fetal ovarian development than a change in maternal EC exposure between pre and post-conception. The pathways by which the ovary responds to this chemical stress were common in TT, CT, TC exposed foetuses. In addition to the period of pregnancy, the pre-conception period appears also as crucial for conditioning long-term effects of EC exposure on ovarian development and primordial follicle reserve and hence future fertility.
    Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 06/2013; 376(1-2). DOI:10.1016/j.mce.2013.06.016 · 4.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ewes were exposed to sewage sludge-fertilised pastures in a study designed investigate pre-conceptual and/or gestational exposure to environmental chemicals. The in-utero impact on fetal thyroid morphology and function at day 110 (of 145) of pregnancy was then determined. Pre-conceptual exposure increased the relative thyroid organ weights in male fetuses. The number of thyroid follicles in thyroids of fetuses after pre-conceptual or gestational exposure was reduced. This correlated with an increase in Ki67 positive cells. Pre-conceptual exposure to sewage sludge reduced small blood vessels in fetal thyroids. Thyroid tissues of exposed fetuses contained regions where mature angio-follicular units were reduced exhibiting decreased immunostaining for sodium-iodide symporter (NIS). Fetal plasma levels of fT3 and fT4 in exposed animals, however, were not different from controls suggesting compensatory changes in the thyroid gland to maintain homeostasis in exposed fetuses. The regional aberrations in thyroid morphology may impact on the post-natal life of the exposed offspring.
    Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 01/2013; 367(1-2). DOI:10.1016/j.mce.2012.12.022 · 4.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A transgenic strain of the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans in which bioluminescence reports on relative, whole-organism ATP levels was used to test an environmentally-relevant mixture of pollutants extracted from processed sewage sludge. Changes in bioluminescence, following exposure to sewage sludge extract, were used to assess relative ATP levels and overall metabolic health. Reproductive function and longevity were also monitored. A short (up to 8 h) sublethal exposure of L4 larval stage worms to sewage sludge extract had a concentration-dependent, detrimental effect on energy status, with bioluminescence decreasing to 50-60% of the solvent control (1% DMSO). Following longer exposure (22-24 h), the energy status of the nematodes showed recovery as assessed by bioluminescence. Continuous exposure to sewage sludge extract from the L4 stage resulted in a shorter median lifespan relative to that of solvent or medium control animals, but only in the presence of 400-600 µM 5-fluoro-2'-deoxyuridine (FUdR), which was incorporated to inhibit reproduction. This indicated that FUdR increased lifespan, and that the effect was counteracted by SSE. Exposure to sewage sludge extract from the L1 stage led to slower growth and a delayed onset of egg laying. When L1 exposed nematodes reached the reproductive stage, no effect on egg laying rate or egg number in the uterus was observed. DMSO itself (1%) had a significant inhibitory effect on growth and development of C. elegans exposed from the L1 stage and on reproduction when exposed from the L4 stage. Results demonstrate subtle adverse effects on C. elegans of a complex mixture of environmental pollutants that are present, individually, in very low concentrations and indicate that our biosensor of energy status is a novel, sensitive, rapid, quantitative, whole-organism test system which is suitable for high throughput risk assessment of complex pollutant mixtures.
    PLoS ONE 10/2012; 7(10):e46503. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0046503 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There is a large body of literature describing effects of environmental chemicals (ECs), many of them anthropogenic with endocrine-disrupting properties, on development in rodent laboratory species, some of which lead to impaired reproduction and adverse health. This literature joins extensive human epidemiological data and opportunistic wildlife findings on health effects of ECs. In contrast, the effect of endocrine disruption on foetal development and reproductive performance in domestic species is less extensively documented. This applies both to domestic farm and to companion species even though the former is critical to food production and the latter share our homes and many aspects of the modern developed human lifestyle. In domestic species, the nature of chemicals exposure in utero and their consequences for animal health and production are poorly understood. A complication in our understanding is that the pace of development, ontogeny and efficiency of foetal and maternal hepatic and placental activity differs between domestic species. In many ways, this reflects the difficulties in understanding human exposure and consequences of that exposure for the foetus and subsequent adult from epidemiological and largely rodent-based data. It is important that domestic species are included in research into endocrine disruption because of their (i) wide variety of exposure to such chemicals, (ii) greater similarity of many developmental processes to the human, (iii) economic importance and (iv) close similarities to developed world human lifestyle in companion species.
    Reproduction in Domestic Animals 08/2012; 47 Suppl 4:15-22. DOI:10.1111/j.1439-0531.2012.02050.x · 1.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Exposure to ubiquitous, environmental chemicals (ECs) has been hypothesized as a cause for declining male reproductive health. Understanding the long-term effects of EC exposure on reproductive health in humans requires animal models and exposure to 'real life', environmentally relevant, mixtures during development, a life stage of particular sensitivity to ECs. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of in utero and post-natal exposure to environmentally relevant levels of ECs, via sewage sludge application to pasture, on the adult male sheep testis. Hormones, liver concentrations of candidate ECs and Sertoli and germ cell numbers in testes of adult rams that were exposed to ECs in sewage sludge in utero, and until weaning via maternal exposure, and post-weaning via grazing pastures fertilized with sewage sludge, were quantified. Evaluated as a single group, exposure to sludge ECs was without significant effect on most parameters. However, a more detailed study revealed that 5 of 12 sludge-exposed rams exhibited major spermatogenic abnormalities. These consisted of major reductions in germ cell numbers per testis or per Sertoli cell and more Sertoli cell-only tubules, when compared with controls, which did not show any such changes. The sludge-related spermatogenic changes in the five affected animals were significantly different from controls (p < 0.001); Sertoli cell number was unaffected. Hormone profiles and liver candidate EC concentrations were not measurably affected by exposure. We conclude that developmental exposure of male sheep to real-world mixtures of ECs can result in major reduction in germ cell numbers, indicative of impaired sperm production, in a proportion of exposed males. The individual-specific effects are presumed to reflect EC effects on a heterogeneous population in which some individuals may be more susceptible to adverse EC effects. Such effects of EC exposure in humans could have adverse consequences for sperm counts and fertility in some exposed males.
    International Journal of Andrology 12/2011; 35(3):317-29. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2605.2011.01234.x · 3.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Evidence is accumulating that environmental chemicals (ECs) including endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) can alter female reproductive development, fertility and onset of menopause. While not as clearly defined as in the male, this set of abnormalities may constitute an Ovarian Dysgenesis Syndrome with at least some origins of the syndrome arising during foetal development. ECs/EDCs have been shown to affect trophoblast and placental function, the female hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis, onset of puberty and adult ovarian function. The effects of ECs/EDCs are complex, not least because it is emerging that low-level, 'real-life' mixtures of ECs/EDCs may carry significant biological potency. In addition, there is evidence that ECs/EDCs can alter the epigenome in a sexually dimorphic manner, which may lead to changes in the germ line and perhaps even to transgenerational effects. This review summarises the evidence for EC, including EDC, involvement in female reproductive dysfunction, it highlights potential mechanisms of EC action in the female and emphasises the need for further research into EC effects on female development and reproductive function.
    Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 10/2011; 355(2):231-9. DOI:10.1016/j.mce.2011.10.021 · 4.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This work was supported by the European Community 'S Seveneth Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013) agreement n° 212885
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    ABSTRACT: Liver concentrations of selected pollutant classes were determined in groups of sheep fetuses and their dams, at 55 (Experiment 1) and 110 (Experiment 2) days of gestation (term = 145 d) following exposure, throughout their breeding lives and after mating, to pasture treated with either inorganic fertiliser (control, CC) or with sewage sludge (treated, TT). In a unique study designed to separate the respective contributions of environmental sources and mobilised tissue to the available EDC burden, in additional groups of animals, pollutant burdens at 110 days gestation were assessed following exposure to the respective treatments, either throughout their breeding lives until mating, but not thereafter (TC), or only between mating and slaughter (CT) (Experiment 3). With very few exceptions, maternal and fetal liver concentrations of diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and selected polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were not significantly affected by sludge exposure in any group. In some cases, maternal and fetal tissue EDC concentrations were different but the differences were not consistent, and maternal and fetal concentrations of none of the classes of chemical were significantly correlated. It was not possible to identify a single chemical, or class of chemical, that may be responsible for previously observed physiological effects of exposure to sludge-treated pastures. It is concluded that exposure of sheep to pastures fertilised with sewage sludge was not associated with increased liver concentrations of EDCs, irrespective of the stage of development at which they were measured and of maternal tissue mobilisation and EDC release during gestation. Thus, retrospective measurements of EDC tissue burdens could not be used to accurately assess earlier fetal EDC insults.
    Journal of Environmental Monitoring 08/2010; 12(8):1582-93. DOI:10.1039/c0em00009d · 2.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Anthropogenic pollutants comprise a wide range of synthetic organic compounds and heavy metals, which are dispersed throughout the environment, usually at low concentrations. Exposure of ruminants, as for all other animals, is unavoidable and while the levels of exposure to most chemicals are usually too low to induce any physiological effects, combinations of pollutants can act additively or synergistically to perturb multiple physiological systems at all ages but particularly in the developing foetus. In sheep, organs affected by pollutant exposure include the ovary, testis, hypothalamus and pituitary gland and bone. Reported effects of exposure include changes in organ weight and gross structure, histology and gene and protein expression but these changes are not reflected in changes in reproductive performance under the conditions tested. These results illustrate the complexity of the effects of endocrine disrupting compounds on the reproductive axis, which make it difficult to extrapolate between, or even within, species. Effects of pollutant exposure on the thyroid gland, immune, cardiovascular and obesogenic systems have not been shown explicitly, in ruminants, but work on other species suggests that these systems can also be perturbed. It is concluded that exposure to a mixture of anthropogenic pollutants has significant effects on a wide variety of physiological systems, including the reproductive system. Although this physiological insult has not yet been shown to lead to a reduction in ruminant gross performance, there are already reports indicating that anthropogenic pollutant exposure can compromise several physiological systems and may pose a significant threat to both reproductive performance and welfare in the longer term. At present, many potential mechanisms of action for individual chemicals have been identified but knowledge of factors affecting the rate of tissue exposure and of the effects of combinations of chemicals on physiological systems is poor. Nevertheless, both are vital for the identification of risks to animal productivity and welfare.
    animal 06/2010; 4(07):1227 - 1239. DOI:10.1017/S1751731110000595 · 1.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Animals and humans are chronically exposed to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that are ubiquitous in the environment. There are strong circumstantial links between environmental EDC exposure and both declining human/wildlife reproductive health and the increasing incidence of reproductive system abnormalities. The verification of such links, however, is difficult and requires animal models exposed to 'real life', environmentally relevant concentrations/mixtures of environmental contaminants (ECs), particularly in utero, when sensitivity to EC exposure is high. The present study aimed to determine whether the foetal sheep reproductive neuroendocrine axis, particularly gondotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and galaninergic systems, were affected by maternal exposure to a complex mixture of chemicals, applied to pasture, in the form of sewage sludge. Sewage sludge contains high concentrations of a spectrum of EDCs and other pollutants, relative to environmental concentrations, but is frequently recycled to land as a fertiliser. We found that foetuses exposed to the EDC mixture in utero through their mothers had lower GnRH mRNA expression in the hypothalamus and lower GnRH receptor (GnRHR) and galanin receptor (GALR) mRNA expression in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Strikingly, this, treatment had no significant effect on maternal GnRH or GnRHR mRNA expression, although GALR mRNA expression within the maternal hypothalamus and pituitary gland was reduced. The present study clearly demonstrates that the developing foetal neuroendocrine axis is sensitive to real-world mixtures of environmental chemicals. Given the important role of GnRH and GnRHR in the regulation of reproductive function, its known role programming role in utero, and the role of galanin in the regulation of many physiological/neuroendocrine systems, in utero changes in the activity of these systems are likely to have long-term consequences in adulthood and represent a novel pathway through which EC mixtures could perturb normal reproductive function.
    Journal of Neuroendocrinology 03/2010; 22(6):527-33. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2826.2010.01974.x · 3.51 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ubiquitous environmental chemicals, including endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), are associated with declining human reproductive health, as well as an increasing incidence of cancers of the reproductive system. Verifying such links requires animal models exposed to "real-life," environmentally relevant concentrations/mixtures of EDC, particularly in utero, when sensitivity to EDC exposure is maximal. We evaluated the effects of maternal exposure to a pollutant cocktail (sewage sludge) on the ovine fetal reproductive neuroendocrine axes, particularly the kisspeptin (KiSS-1)/GPR54 (G-protein-coupled receptor 54) system. KiSS-1, GPR54, and ERalpha (estrogen receptor alpha) mRNA expression was quantified in control (C) and treated (T) maternal and fetal (110-day) hypothalami and pituitary glands using semiquantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, and colocalization of kisspeptin with LHbeta (luteinizing hormone beta) and ERalpha in C and T fetal pituitary glands quantified using dual-labeling immunohistochemistry. Fetuses exposed in utero to the EDC mixture showed reduced KiSS-1 mRNA expression across three hypothalamic regions examined (rostral, mid, and caudal) and had fewer kisspetin immunopositive cells colocalized with both LHbeta and ERalpha in the pituitary gland. In contrast, treatment had no effect on parameters measured in the adult ewe hypothalamus or pituitary. This study demonstrates that the developing fetus is sensitive to real-world mixtures of environmental chemicals, which cause significant neuroendocrine alterations. The important role of kisspeptin/GPR54 in regulating puberty and adult reproduction means that in utero disruption of this system is likely to have long-term consequences in adulthood and represents a novel, additional pathway through which environmental chemicals perturb human reproduction.
    Environmental Health Perspectives 10/2009; 117(10):1556-62. DOI:10.1289/ehp.0900699 · 7.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To identify Chlamydia trachomatis DNA by polymerase chain reaction in the upper genital tract of men with obstructive azoospermia compared with men seeking vasectomy reversal. Case-control study. Tertiary referral center, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen, United Kingdom. Cases were men with idiopathic obstructive azoospermia, and controls were men with azoospermia secondary to vasectomy. Chlamydia trachomatis-specific DNA test by polymerase chain reaction on testicular and epididymal biopsy samples, as well as epididymal aspirate. Presence of Chlamydia trachomatis DNA. We did not detect the presence of Chlamydia trachomatis-specific DNA by polymerase chain reaction in the epididymis or testis of 36 asymptomatic men with obstructive azoospermia (14 cases, 22 controls). Our hypothesis that unrecognized, asymptomatic chlamydial infection will lead to complete bilateral obstruction of the male genital tract remains unproven.
    Fertility and sterility 01/2009; 93(3):833-6. DOI:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.10.063 · 4.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Epidemiological studies of the impact of environmental chemicals on reproductive health demonstrate consequences of exposure but establishing causative links requires animal models using 'real life' in utero exposures. We aimed to determine whether prolonged, low-dose, exposure of pregnant sheep to a mixture of environmental chemicals affects fetal ovarian development. Exposure of treated ewes (n = 7) to pollutants was maximized by surface application of processed sewage sludge to pasture. Control ewes (n = 10) were reared on pasture treated with inorganic fertilizer. Ovaries and blood were collected from fetuses (n = 15 control and n = 8 treated) on Day 110 of gestation for investigation of fetal endocrinology, ovarian follicle/oocyte numbers and ovarian proteome. Treated fetuses were 14% lighter than controls but fetal ovary weights were unchanged. Prolactin (48% lower) was the only measured hormone significantly affected by treatment. Treatment reduced numbers of growth differentiation factor (GDF9) and induced myeloid leukaemia cell differentiation protein (MCL1) positive oocytes by 25-26% and increased pro-apoptotic BAX by 65% and 42% of protein spots in the treated ovarian proteome were differently expressed compared with controls. Nineteen spots were identified and included proteins involved in gene expression/transcription, protein synthesis, phosphorylation and receptor activity. Fetal exposure to environmental chemicals, via the mother, significantly perturbs fetal ovarian development. If such effects are replicated in humans, premature menopause could be an outcome.
    Molecular Human Reproduction 06/2008; 14(5):269-80. DOI:10.1093/molehr/gan020 · 3.48 Impact Factor
  • Maria Rosario Amezaga, Hamish McKenzie
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    ABSTRACT: To study the molecular mechanisms of erythromycin resistance in beta-haemolytic streptococci of Lancefield groups A, B, C and G. Erythromycin-resistant clinical isolates from North East Scotland were collected over 2 years. Resistance phenotypes were determined by disc diffusion and MICs by Etest. Resistance genes mef, msr(D), erm(B) and erm(TR) were identified by PCR and mef and msr(D) were sequenced. Erythromycin resistance prevalence was 1.9% in group A streptococci (31 of 1625), 4.3% in group B (53 of 1233), 3.8% in group C (18 of 479) and 6.2% in group G (64 of 1034). The numbers of resistant isolates available were 26, 42, 9 and 52 in each group respectively. The majority of resistant isolates in groups A (57.7%, 15 of 26), B (88.1%, 37 of 42) and G (90.4%, 47 of 52) were MLS(B). The contribution of M phenotype was significant in groups C (77.8%, 7 of 9) and A (42.3%, 11 of 26). Group A isolates carried mef(A) and group B carried mef(E) exclusively. A mef sequence distinct from mef(A) and mef(E) was identified in group G and was associated with a new msr(D) sequence. These sequence variants appear to be part of a new genetic element that is inserted in the comEC gene. A bimodal distribution of erythromycin MICs was noted in erm(TR) isolates. The results demonstrate significant differences in the mechanisms of macrolide resistance amongst different Lancefield groups in the same geographical area. New sequences show that resistance mechanisms are still evolving.
    Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 04/2006; 57(3):443-9. DOI:10.1093/jac/dki490 · 5.44 Impact Factor
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    Maria Rosario Amezaga, Philip E Carter, Phillip Cash, Hamish McKenzie
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    ABSTRACT: Erythromycin-resistant isolates of Streptococcus pneumoniae from blood cultures and noninvasive sites were studied over a 3-year period. The prevalence of erythromycin resistance was 11.9% (19 of 160) in blood culture isolates but 4.2% (60 of 1,435) in noninvasive-site isolates. Sixty-two of the 79 resistant isolates were available for study. The M phenotype was responsible for 76% (47 of 62) of resistance, largely due to a serotype 14 clone, characterized by multilocus sequence typing as ST9, which accounted for 79% (37 of 47) of M phenotype resistance. The ST9 clone was 4.8 times more common in blood than in noninvasive sites. All M phenotype isolates were PCR positive for mef(A), but sequencing revealed that the ST9 clone possessed the mef(A) sequence commonly associated with Streptococcus pyogenes. All M phenotype isolates with this mef(A) sequence also had sequences consistent with the presence of the Tn1207.1 genetic element inserted in the celB gene. In contrast, isolates with the mef(E) sequence normally associated with S. pneumoniae contained sequences consistent with the presence of the mega insertion element. All MLS(B) isolates carried erm(B), and two isolates carried both erm(B) and mef(E). Fourteen of the 15 MLS(B) isolates were tetracycline resistant and contained tet(M). However, six M phenotype isolates of serotypes 19 (two isolates) and 23 (four isolates) were also tetracycline resistant and contained tet(M). MICs for isolates with the mef(A) sequence were significantly higher than MICs for isolates with the mef(E) sequence (P < 0.001). Thus, the ST9 clone of S. pneumoniae is a significant cause of invasive pneumococcal disease in northeast Scotland and is the single most important contributor to M phenotype erythromycin resistance.
    Journal of Clinical Microbiology 09/2002; 40(9):3313-8. DOI:10.1128/JCM.40.9.3313-3318.2002 · 4.23 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

324 Citations
52.52 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2013
    • University of Glasgow
      • Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
      Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • 2002–2013
    • University of Aberdeen
      • • Institute of Medical Sciences
      • • Division of Applied Medicine
      • • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
      Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom