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Center for Human Nutrition


Joseph Bressler

Associate Professor
Academic Degrees
Ph.D., Rutgers University, 1978
Departmental Affiliation
Environmental Health Sciences
Toxicological Sciences
Departmental Address
Neurotoxicology, Kennedy Krieger Institute
707 North Broadway, Baltimore MD 21215
Phone: 443-923-2677
Fax: 443-923-2695
Research and Professional Experience

Tight barriers such as those expressed by epithelial cells lining the intestine or kidney tubules, or by endothelial cells in the brain (blood brain barrier), restrict the transport of charged chemical or chemicals with high molecular weight. These chemicals may include ions and hormones or pollutants in the environment. The anatomical basis of the tight barrier is tight junctions that fuse the cells together thereby preventing chemicals from passing between cells. Because tight barriers would also slow the transport of needed nutrients, cells forming tight barriers express specific transporters. Our laboratory has been studying transporters and their interaction with environmental toxins. We found, for example, that a iron and zinc transporters mediate the uptake of toxic metals such as lead and cadmium. Additionally, trivalent metals such as aluminum and lanthanum activate iron transporters and also increase the transport of toxic metals. Further characterization of iron transporters and their involvement in lead poisoning is underway in our laboratory.


  • Environmental Health Sciences
  • blood brain barrier
  • lead
  • iron
  • transporters
  • neurodevelopment

Honors and Awards

Selected Publications

Bressler, JP, Olivi, L, Cheong, JA, Kim Y, Maerten, A. and Bannon, D. Metal transporters in intestine and brain; their involvement in metal associated neurotoxicities. Human and Experimental Toxicology, 26, 221-229 (2007) Kim, Y, Olivi, L, Cheong, JH, and Bressler, JP. Aluminum stimulates transferrin-dependent and independent uptake of iron in human glial cells. Tox App Pharm:220; 349-356, 2007 Weil M, Bressler J, Parsons P, Bolla K, Glass, Schwartz B. Blood mercury levels and neurobehavioral function. JAMA: 293; 1875-82, 2006 Aschner, M., Fitsanakis, V.A., Marrielha dos Santos, AP, Olivi, L. and Bressler, J. Blood-Brain Barrier and Cell-Cell Interactions: Methods for Establishing In Vitro Models Of the Blood-Brain Barrier And Measuring Transport, 341, 1-15, 2006 Cheong, JH, Bannon, D., Olivi, L., Kim, Y., and Bressler J.P. Different mechanisms mediate uptake of lead in a rat a...

Joseph Bressler Photo