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Prof. Dr. Hans- Rudolf Glatt

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Status: 09.07.2020 19:32:31

Image Nutritional Toxicology

Department of Nutritional Toxicology (ETOX)

Due to the retirement of Prof. Dr. Hans-Rudolf Glatt the department has been closed on 30 September 2013.

The department focused on:


Field of research

The department investigates the formation of chemically reactive metabolites of non-nutritive food components and their toxicological effects in organisms (humanised cell lines, laboratory animals). It further assesses the role of host factors in the toxicology of these reactive metabolites.


Food not only consists of nutrients, but also contains natural and anthropogenic non-nutritive components (xenobiotics) which determine smell, taste and look of foods. Many may be absorbed and interfere with functions of the organism. Independent of whether these effects are favorable or harmful in the individual case, an accumulation of xenobiotics has to be avoided. The elimination of xenobiotics usually involves their structural transformation. Although this biotransformation means a detoxification in principle, it can lead to highly toxic metabolites in some cases. Biotransformation is therefore a central aspect for understanding toxicological effects, in particular as it is extremely variable.

Toxicological effects mediated by chemically reactive metabolites are of special interest because, even at low exposure, they may lead to irreversible and cumulating damage. The pathophysiological consequences of this damage - such as cancer, degenerative changes, allergy and malformation or inherited damage in descendants - are only manifested after a latency period, which can be several years or decades. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to elucidate causal relationships, especially if the exposure is so complex as with food.


The studies in this department are aimed at the determination of natural and anthropogenic toxic substances in food, the elucidation of their mechanism of action, and the assessment of the type and extent of the resulting health risks. In addition, individual genetic factors and nutritional effects which enhance or reduce the risks should be recognized.

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