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Year: 2020
Project manager: Heli Routti
Project code: 462 602019

In this research project with external evaluation we will complement our understanding on adverse effects of contaminants by establishing cause-effect relationships between contaminants and toxic outcomes in Arctic marine mammals in collaboration with three Fram Centre, one national and two international institutes. The need for this kind of research has been recalled by Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, the Circumpolar Action Plan for polar bear conservation and Miljødirektoratets prioriterte forskningsbehov 2016 -2021. As a part of our previous Fram Centre activities, we have isolated stem cells from polar bear adipose (fat) tissue, and developed a method to differentiate them to mature fat cells (adipogenesis). We have also established a fibroblast (skin cell) cell culture from a fin whale. We hypothesize that contaminants in combination with stress alter the function of adipose cells in marine mammals. We will focus on three differently contaminated species, polar bear, fin whale and killer whale. We propose to establish a killer whale fibroblast cell culture, program fin whale and killer whale fibroblasts to go through adipogenesis. We will further investigate metabolic and lipidomic responses during adipogenesis in polar bear, fin whale and killer whale cells exposed to contaminant mixtures and stress hormones. The results will be communicated through peer-reviewed articles and direct discussions and involvement of NPI in environmental management processes. The projects educational plan is to educate three MSc-students.

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