Adrian Covaci

Full Professor

Research

Research group

Toxicological Centre

Expertise

  • The Toxicological Center has built up in the last 20 years expertise related to analytical toxicology, forensic toxicology and environmental toxicology research field. More specifically, the expertise of Prof. A. Covaci has been related to the development and validation of analytical methods for the determination of a broad range of legacy and emerging organic contaminants in environmental (soil, sediment, dust, water), food (meat, fish, duplicate diets, milk) and human (blood, urine, hair, milk, tissues) samples. The principal aim of the research is to characterize the human exposure to various organic contaminants, with emphasis on indoor chemicals used in the consumer products employed daily. An important component is the assessment of potential toxic and adverse effects on humans resulting from such exposures. UA-TOX mainly focuses on several legacy (regulated) chemicals and on many classes of chemicals of emerging concerns. These include flame retardants, plasticizers, organochlorine and organobromine contaminants, bisphenol substitutes, pesticides, plastic additives, perfluorinated chemicals, but also pharmaceuticals and illicit drugs. Recent research activities include also untargeted and suspected screening of contaminants and their transformation products in human and environmental matrices. Since 2007, a research direction has been implemented which uses the analysis of wastewater to estimate the consumption of illicit drugs in cities. The Toxicological Center was one of the first research groups worldwide to implement this approach. The Toxicological Centre has recently set up methodological approaches to identify metabolites resulting from metabolisation of various (indoor) contaminants, but also new psychoactive substances by using human in vitro hepatic systems and LC-Q-TOF-MS. Since recently, metabolomics approaches are used to study and predict toxicity at cellular and organismal levels. At the analytical level, we are developing and optimizing workflows for the use of innovative metabolomics techniques, a reliable “confirmatory” or “diagnostic” analytical tool. Regarding toxicity studies, metabolomics projects are currently running to profile endogenous metabolites in (in vitro) hepatic and lung cells after exposure to toxicants. These experiments use MS-based metabolomics to elucidate toxicity mechanisms and pathways by identifying changes in cellular metabolites after exposure to toxicants. We are also employing target metabolomics through the specific analyses of biomarkers identified as relevant and specific for several types of health effects investigated within the current biomonitoring schemes (FLEHS and HBM4EU). The outcome of these experiments constitutes an additional pillar in the characterization of toxicity and exposure pathways of humans to chemicals and is crucial in establishing causal relationships with diseases. Together with the NatuRA group, the Toxicological Centre have recently established an experimental workflow Xeno-biome based on the LC-MS profiling to investigate biotransformation of bioactive food ingredients, pharmaceuticals, and toxicants by the gut microbiome in a gastro-intestinal-colon dialysis model. There are several high-end instruments present at the Toxicological Center, which include gas/liquid chromatographs coupled with mass spectrometers. Also quadrupole time-of-flight (Q-TOF) LC-MS, providing accurate mass measurements and MS/MS fragmentation, is available to support the above mentioned research directions

Projects

You can find here all of the projects that are recorded in the research database of UAntwerp under the name of the academic staff member that acts as a promoter, copromoter or grant holder (a.o. FWO). It concerns only those research projects and mandates that were acquired after an external or internal competition.