Farmworkers in Apopka, FL, have been subjected to overhead pesticide exposure since the 1940s. Pesticides including Paraquat (PQ), Metribuzin and Aldicarb were sprayed onto the field while farmworkers worked. In "Fed Up: The High Cost of Cheap Food," farmworkers recalled the physical toll these conditions took on their bodies, blaming pesticides for their diseases, such as chronic kidney disease (CKD). While established that pesticides, specifically PQ, may be involved in some forms of Parkinson's disease, no explicit connection has been identified for SLE, CKD, and other diseases experienced by farm workers. This study evaluated whether pesticides could contribute to kidney disease. We quantified the fluorescence of reactive oxygen species (ROS) following varying PQ exposure in human embryonic kidney 293 (HEK293) cells using a microplate reader. Dosages of 75 and 150 µM were chosen based on previous literature. We also measured expression of KD biomarkers KIM-1 and NGAL upon PQ exposure with RT-qPCR. Glutathione-S-transferase pi 1 (GSTP1) served as an indicator of ROS. We predicted that ROS would increase with increasing PQ concentration, as would the fold change in the expression of the mRNA biomarker levels. The results showed a trend of increased expression of NGAL, KIM-1 and GSTP1 as PQ concentration increased. This study suggests metabolic panels may be an option when assessing patient health, especially patients susceptible to kidney disease. Future in vitro and in vivo examinations of these biomarkers are needed to clinically correlate physiological concentrations of these pesticides, and progression of kidney disease.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Hawthorne, Alicia


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Medicine


Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences

Degree Program

Biomedical Sciences



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date


Included in

Cell Biology Commons