Theme Leader: Teresa Pinheiro

The human exposure to metal pollutants and risk factors are recognized causes of health problems and disease burden at all ages.

To tackle this problem biomonitoring focused on the use of biomarkers is a very appealing approach to screen individuals and anticipate risks of developing diseases. Also, to estimate the response of cells to metal-containing nanoparticles, pollutants and metallo-drugs is a first important step towards an understanding of their effects on the entire organism.

On this background it is very important to gain insight in i) the metal compounds incorporation in cells and their toxicity; ii) possible target molecules; and iii) cell functions that may be target by these compounds.

Our current projects within this subject include

  • Development of new imaging modality using fast ion beams. We can currently obtain real three-dimensional images of whole cells with tens of nanometre depth resolution, which is particularly appropriated to the ongoing studies on the interaction of particulate matter (indoor and outdoor pollution), metallo-drugs and nanoparticles with cells, microorganisms and microbial structures [1,2,3].
  • Estimate the potential toxicological effect of indoor particulate matter sources evaluating in vitro the biological response towards human cell line model. This is crucial to devise cost-effective abatement strategies and contribute to assess and identify sustainable solutions for ecosystems and the population and support the transition to a low carbon economy.
  • Search of new biomarkers for noncommunicable diseases by screening individuals and their response to intervention and by using laboratory models to unravel the mode of action of those biomarkers [4,5].


[1] Vasco, M.S., Alves, L.C., Corregidor, V., Correia, D., Godinho, C.P., Sá-Correia, I., Bettiol, A., Watt, F. and Pinheiro, T. 3D map distribution of metallic nanoparticles in whole cells using MeV ion microscopy. Journal of Microscopy. 2017 (online). DOI:10.1111/jmi.12561

[2] Ribeiro N, Roya S, Butenko N, Cavaco I, Pinheiro T, Alho I, Marques F, Avecilla F, Costa Pessoa J Correia I. New Cu(II) complexes with pyrazolyl derived Schiff base ligands: Synthesis and biological evaluation. Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry 174 (2017) 63–75. DOI: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2017.05.011

[3] Bento, J.B., Franca, R.D.G., Pinheiro, T. Alves, L.C., Pinheiro, H.M., Lourenço, N.D. Using nuclear microscopy to characterize the interaction of textile-used silver nanoparticles with a biological wastewater treatment system. Nucl Instrum Methods B. 404 (2017) 150–154. DOI: 10.1016/j.nimb.2017.01.01

[4] Napoleão, P., Monteiro, M.C., Cabral, L.B.P., Criado, M.B., Ramos, C., Selas, M., Viegas-Crespo, A.M., Saldanha, C., Mota Carmo, M.,  Cruz Ferreira, R., Pinheiro, T., “Changes of soluble CD40 ligand in the progression of acute myocardial infarction associate to endothelial nitric oxide synthase polymorphisms and vascular endothelial growth factor but not to platelet CD62P expression”, Translational Research, 166 (2015) 650-9. DOI:10.1016/j.trsl.2015.07.006

[5] Napoleão, P., Cabral, L.B., Selas, M., Freixo, C., Monteiro, M.D., Criado, M.B., Costa, M.C., Enguita, F.J., Viegas-Crespo, A.M., Saldanha, C., Carmo, M.M., Ferreira R.C., Pinheiro, T. Stratification of ST-elevation myocardial infarction patients based on soluble CD40L longitudinal changes. Translational Research 176 (2016) 95-104. DOI: 10.1016/j.trsl.2016.04.005.

External Collaborators

Célia Alves, CESAM, Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal

Fernanda Marujo, Luís C. Alves, and S. Marta Almeida, C2TN, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

Frank Watt and Andrew Bettiol, University of Singapore, Singapore

Maria Dolores Ynsa, CMAM, Universidad Autonoma Madrid, Spain

Miguel Mota Carmo, CEDOC, NOVA Medical Scool, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal

Patrícia Napoleão, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras, Portugal

Rui Ferreira, Fátima Pinto and Mafalda Selas, Hospital de Santa Marta, Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Central, Portugal


SFRH/BD/117993/2016 – Chemical fingerprinting and toxicity of particulate matter from indoor sources to help meet the objectives of the project FCT IF/01078/2013 “XPOSURE-Integrated human exposure to particles: characterization, identification of sources and health effects”(PI: Célia Alves, CESAM, Univ. Aveiro).

PTDC/AAG-TEC/4501/2014 – NanoMicroImpact – Impact of engineered nanoparticles and microplastics on textile wastewater treatment with aerobic granular sludge technology (PI: Nídia Lourenço, BERG/iBB)

LAHSM, Liga dos Amigos do Hospital de Sta Marta (2016-2017) – Longitudinal evaluation of soluble biomarkers of inflammation and vascular function in patients after COMBO stent implantation (PI: Rui Ferreira, Hosp. Sta Marta/CHLC)