Discipline: Biological Sciences
Subcategory: Cell and Molecular Biology
Alleyah Ransom - Claflin University
Co-Author(s): Omar Bagasra, MD, PhD, Claflin University, Orangeburg, SC
Benzyl salicylate is a naturally occurring compound found in plants and plant extracts. It is often a major ingredient in numerous cosmetic products and serves as a flavoring agent in food. It is most commonly used as a fragrance additive/solvent and UV light absorber. The International Fragrance Association has placed a restriction on its use in consumer goods due to risk of causing sensitization and allergic reactions. This chemical is associated with endocrine disruption, is a known immunotoxin or allergen, and is suspected to be an environmental toxin. It is hypothesized that if found present in the blood-stream of a pregnant female, benzyl salicylate could potentially cause damage to the developing brain of a fetus. This investigation examined the effects of various concentrations of benzyl salicylate on the neurons of two neuroblastoma cell lines. These cell lines served to represent a developing fetal brain. The final step in the investigation involved analyzing the neurons of both cell lines for any morphological abnormalities as well as comparing them to a control group. These abnormalities included deviation in axonal length, central chromatolysis, syncytia formation, and axonal degeneration. Analyses indicated that neurons from both the male and female cell lines that were exposed to benzyl salicylate underwent substantial modifications, specifically syncytia formation (P<0.0248) and chromatolysis (P<0.0444). In conclusion, it was determined that exposure to benzyl salicylate could potentially cause serious neurological damage to a developing fetal brain and therefore possibly lead to autism development. Future research involves further analyses of the affected neurons in regards to gene expression; this will be done through the use of real time PCR testing and immunohistochemical analyses for specific cellular receptors that may be a factor in disease development.Not Submitted
Funder Acknowledgement(s): There was no funding provided for this project.
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Omar Bagasra, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: I was responsible for splitting and maintaining two neuroblastoma cell lines, adding the tested chemical (benzyl salicylate) to each cell line, staining the cells of each line, preparing microscope slides of the cells, and analyzing the cells for any morphological abnormalities.