Pharm.D. (six years)

Second Major



Slitt, Angela

Advisor Department

Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences




Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, steatosis, BDE


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is becoming a significantly more common problem in today’s society, affecting up to 25% of people in the United States as reported by the American Liver Foundation. According to the American Association of the Study of Liver Diseases, NAFLD is the buildup of fat in the liver that is not caused by secondary factors such as alcohol consumption, hereditary disorders, or the use of steatogenic medication such as amioderone. A liver is considered fatty when 5-10% of the liver’s weight is fat. The progression of NAFLD can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, or liver failure. Risk factors for NAFLD include obesity, type II diabetes mellitus, hypertriglyceridemia, hypercholesterolemia, age, gender, and ethnicity. In addition, there are examples of toxicant-induced liver disease in occupationally exposed workers, suggesting that the environment may also be a risk factor for the development of NAFLD. This study aims to determine whether direct exposure to environmental compounds cause fatty liver using cultured liver carcinoma cells. BDE-47 (1,2,4-tribromo-5(2,4-dibromophenoxy)benzene) is a brominated flame retardant used in a wide variety of consumer products such as polyurethane foam, which is used in furniture and car upholstery, packaging and electronic equipment . BDE-47 is released into the environment by manufacturers and by the products themselves and can be ingested or inhaled and then stored in the liver as lipids. The pentaBDE congener that is usually predominant in environmental media is BDE-99 (1,2,4-tribromo-5-(2,4-dibromophenoxy) benzene). BDE-99 is a brominated flame retardant chemical and is released into the environment. PentaBDEs are thought to be distributed throughout the human body and found in adipose (fat) tissues, blood, liver, and maternal milk. Since BDE-47 and BDE-99 can be found in many household items as well as in the environment, understanding this mechanism is crucial to the health of a large number of people around the world. Elucidating the mechanism may help to develop new drugs to prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as well as possibly ban these chemicals from consumer products. The results of this study show that BDEs cause liver cells to go through steatosis and become fatty.