Autophagy is a natural process which in physiological conditions is aimed at the elimination of destroyed or malfunctioning cell parts, organelles or molecules. Also, autophagy gets induced under stressing conditions in response to, for example, infection, starvation or oxidative stress. Cadmium as the metal regarded as highly toxic induces numerous harmful effects and reactions, including DNA damage, molecule function inhibition and oxidative stress, may also induce autophagy either directly, by interaction with molecules or indirectly through generation of free radicals. However, Cd also is known as a factor, the exposure to which may, after several generations, contribute to the selection of animal strains of increased tolerance to this element. In the Institute of Biology, Biotechnology and Environmental Protection, University of Silesia in Katowice, there is an unique strain of the moth S. exigua, selected to Cd for 170 generations (18 years). The strain exhibits cellular and organismal reactions that after the period of selection, resemble the ones noted for the control strain. Also, we have strains that are intermediate referring to both Cd concentration and time of exposure. Therefore, the aim of this study was to check whether the autophagy markers differs in insects of various Cd exposure history, including also additional acute intoxication. To reach the aim, two complementary methods: ELISA (LC3 protein level) and flow cytometry were used. Autophagy induction appeared to be significant only in the highest intensity of acute exposure.
Agnieszka Babczyńska, PhD, DSc In my research work I concentrate on relations between humans, animals and environment. As an enthusiastic ecophysiologist, in my work I apply widely understood biomarkers, from molecular markers to life history parameters, if they are able to throw a new light on the tolerance, adaptation, plasticity or selection processes of animals in response to external, especially anthropogenic factors. As animal models, I usually use invertebrates, with spiders and insects as my favorites. Equally eagerly I spend my scientific time in the laboratory and in the field. I am also an academic teacher and, I often organize and take part in popularization of researches among children and adults.