Group picture
Working on the microscope
Working in the lab


to the website of the Department of Nutrition Toxicology at the Institute of Nutritional Science!

At the Department of Toxicology of the Institute of Nutritional Science, many general principles and methods of toxicology are used to investigate the influence of nutrition on human health. Especially molecular mechanisms, how food ingredients and eating habits are connected to an impairment of health, are investigated at the Department of Toxicology. For this purpose, experiments on DNA, protein, cell and tissue levels are carried out. A variety of animal models exist to prove whether effects can also be seen in the whole organism. The numerous collaborations with clinics allow investigations also in humans.
The results of all these toxicological investigations are then the basis for a targeted evaluation of toxic or even preventive effects of food and eating habits. Moreover, the identification of biomarkers to examine pathophysiological processes due to food ingredients or eating habits, is a further focus concerning the research of the Department of Toxicology.

Nanotechnology is considered a key technology in the field of nutrition. Thus, it has been clearly indicated that nanoparticles improve flow characteristics, color and shelf life of food. Moreover, nanoparticles can also be used as carrier systems for the transportation of specific molecules. But it should be considered that a new technology raises also new questions: Because of quantum size effects and large surface area to volume ratio, nanomaterials have unique properties compared with their larger counterparts. Therefore, nanotoxicolgy is a research focus at the Department of Toxicology.

The establishment of alternative and animal-friendly methods is a big concern in research at the Department of Toxicology. The Three Rs (3Rs) in relation to science are guiding principles for more ethical use of animals in testing. They were first described by W. M. S. Russell and R. L. Burch in 1959 in their book 'The Principles of Humane Experimental Techniques'. The 3Rs are:

  • Replacement: methods which avoid or replace the use of animals in research.
  • Reduction: use of methods that enable researchers to obtain comparable levels of information from fewer animals, or to obtain more information from the same number of animals.
  • Refinement: use of methods that alleviate or minimize potential pain, suffering or distress, and

We are conducting intensive research on alternative methods to animal experiments and implement them consistently, wherever possible.