Students analyze PCB-treated mice

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pollutants that are found in the human food supply, have been known to cause health concerns in humans, such as cancer and learning deficits.  


Two NKU students have been studying the effects PCBs have on mice and presented their findings at NKU’s Celebration of Student Research and Creativity.


Nicholas Brinkman, a sophomore biology major and Shelby Caudill, a sophomore psychology major, focused on how to extract DNA from the feces of mice and then determined whether fresh or frozen samples should be used.


“We’re just trying to develop our methods to see how we’re going to examine the effect PCBs have on the microbiome in the future,” Brinkman said.


According to Brinkman, PCBs are of high concern because they are found in common foods such as steak, fish, chicken breast, pancakes and numerous other foods Brinkman and Caudill listed on their poster.


“PCBs are still a pertinent health concern,” Brinkman said. “There were bans in the 1970s but they still remain in our environments in large quantities.”


The two did hit some difficulties when deciding their methods. Brinkman said they consulted with a professor, and contacted multiple vendors to find out if it would be okay to work with their samples.


“There was a little bit of a procedural error when we did this,” Caudill said. “We’re going to have to run kits again a couple times because one kit just didn’t show up.”


Brinkman and Caudill are specifically focusing on the effects PCB has on pregnant mice.  Newborns and fetuses are at high-risk for the effects of PCB.