Robert D. Combes
The work of Dr Richard Clothier (Reader in Cellular Toxicology and Director of the FRAME Alternatives Laboratory in the University of Nottingham Medical School) in relation to the FRAME Research Programme, is reviewed. He made a very substantial contribution to FRAME’s laboratory research work over the last 20 years, by publishing many research papers, mainly with respect to method development and the application of new replacement toxicity test methods, particularly those involving the use of human cells in tissue culture. In addition, he participated in a number of international validation studies that have facilitated the regulatory acceptance of certain new methods. Lastly, he has been closely involved in the logistical aspects of obtaining and maintaining external research funding for FRAME from industrial sponsors.
Animal testing to demonstrate the safety of cosmetic and toiletries has been used for many years. However, such testing, now viewed by many consumers as an emotive issue, has been banned within the UK, and is severely restricted in the European Union. Consumer knowledge and understanding have been challenged by the use of focus group studies, which showed that consumers were often confused and potentially misled by claims on labels and in leaflets. Despite the fact that some pressure groups had taken positive action, even holding store demonstrations, in attempts to stop such testing or claims, there was still a legal requirement to demonstrate the safety of products, and this involved the use of animal testing. Nevertheless, there was great pressure to move away from animal testing, clarify marketing and pack claims, and provide general transparency to the consumer. Therefore, the decision was taken to actively seek out and work with organisations which were working toward the validation of alternative testing. A number of potential organisations were approached and, after careful consideration of their respective aims and aspirations, it was decided that, for the retailer in question, FRAME was the most appropriate organisation with which to work.
Phototoxicity and Acute Toxicity Studies Conducted by the FRAME Alternatives Laboratory: A Brief Review
Richard H. Clothier
FRAME and the University of Nottingham have been in association for the past 25 years. During this time, the research in the FRAME Alternatives Laboratory (FAL) at the University of Nottingham, which is partly funded by FRAME and also, more recently, by ECVAM, has involved participation in a number of international validation studies. Validation has become a pre-requisite for the regulatory acceptance of in vitro alternative test procedures, and a number of key lessons have been learned from these studies. The directors of validation studies need to ensure that standard operating procedures (SOPs) are fully complied with, and that the equipment used is certified to be of an acceptable standard. Database managers need to be able to check the original data, and to ensure adherence to procedures agreed before the study began. When the validation study is part of an integrated EU Framework Project, such as ACute-Tox, the Workpackage Leader must have the ability to understand and evaluate the data to be presented for inclusion in the study analysis, and to check that it complies with acceptance criteria. The potential to relate observed cellular biochemical changes to morphological endpoints also increases the level of understanding of the relevance and/or limitations of an assay. For example, exposure to a surfactant can induce the temporary loss of adhesion junctions between adjacent epithelial cells, resulting in the loss of barrier integrity and other effects on cell culture activity, which can potentially be restored over time. Unexpected results from the NRU phototoxicity assay with human keratinocytes instead of 3T3 cells, stimulated research into the ability of the in vitro assay, not only to identify phototoxins, but also to identify their possible mechanisms of action and mechanisms underlying the protective capacity within human primary keratinocytes in vitro. The protective effects of UV-filters can also be used to ascertain their effects on the photoactivation of drugs.
An Evaluation of a Novel Chick Cardiomyocyte Micromass Culture Assay with Two Teratogens/Embryotoxins Associated with Heart Defects
Helena S. Hurst, Richard H. Clothier and Margaret Pratten
This study was aimed at determining whether the chick cardiomyocyte micromass (MM) system could be employed to predict the teratogenicity/embryotoxicity of exogenous chemicals. Two documented teratogens/embryotoxins, sodium valproate (the sodium salt of valproic acid; VPA) and all-trans retinoic acid (tRA), were used in the initial phase of the study. White Leghorn 5-day-old embryo hearts were dissociated to produce a cardiomyocyte suspension in Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle’s Medium. Cultures were incubated at 37°C in 5% CO2 in air, and observations were made every 24 hours over 5 days, for the detection of beating. Culture viability was assessed by using the resazurin reduction assay for determining culture activity and the kenacid blue assay for determining cell number. It was found that tRA significantly reduced cell activity and beating, whilst not affecting total cell number. VPA up to 500μM induced no cytotoxicity in the MM cardiomyocyte cultures, whilst all the VPA concentrations tested reduced beating. The results demonstrate the potential of the chick cardiomyocyte MM culture assay to identify teratogens/embryotoxins that alter functionality, which may result in a teratogenic outcome, whilst not causing cytotoxicity (direct embryotoxicity). This could form part of a screen for developmental toxicity related to cardiac function, whilst limb cultures and brain cultures based on the same system could be relevant to teratogenic effects on those tissues.
A Review of In Vitro Modelling Approaches to the Identification and Modulation of Squamous Metaplasia in the Human Tracheobronchial Epithelium
Alison C. Gray, Julie D. McLeod and Richard H. Clothier
Squamous metaplasia in the tracheobronchial epithelium (TBE) involves the replacement of the normal pseudostratified mucociliary epithelium with a stratified squamous epithelium. Squamous metaplasia is considered to be an adaptive response that protects the lumen from the effects of inhaled airborne pollutants, but which might also feature as a pre-neoplastic lesion preceding squamous cell carcinoma. With the exception of transglutaminase I, involucrin, and cytokeratins 5, 6 and 13, few markers that contribute to the squamous phenotype have been identified in human TBE that can be used in diagnosis or to monitor its development in laboratory investigations, and current models are inadequate to provide statistically meaningful data. Therefore, new predictive markers have been identified, and new techniques established, in epithelial in vitro models capable of expressing squamous characteristics, which will be used to identify hazardous exposures and elucidate the mechanisms by which they induce their effects. A protocol for the quantitative detection of transglutaminase activity has been standardised in keratinocytes, based on the enzymatic incorporation of fluorescein–cadaverine (FC) into bis(γ-glutamyl) polyamine cross-links. The specificity of this compound as a transglutaminase substrate was demonstrated by using a range of competitive transglutaminase inhibitors, and by modulation of the squamous pathway. FC incorporation was localised to the cell membrane of terminally differentiating cells, and was not visible in basal, proliferating cells. High calcium-containing medium, nicotine and cigarette smoke condensates (CSC) induced an increase in FC incorporation, providing evidence of their role in enhancing the squamous pathway. Analysis by flow cytometry was used to provide a quantitative assessment of a range of optimised squamous differentiation markers, identified in normal human bronchial epithelia and in a bronchial cell line. Transglutaminase I was induced in a time-dependent manner, in post-confluent cells induced to differentiate down the squamous pathway, whereas involucrin was ubiquitously expressed and the levels of cytokeratins 5, 6 and 18 were reduced. The response of these and other differentiation markers to squamous-inducing conditions is being explored.
Nancy Khammo, Jane Ogilvie and Richard H. Clothier
Neuronal cell responses and interactions with the epithelial and fibroblastic cells of the skin are a key factor in the production in vivo of the irritation/inflammatory response. Currently, few in vitromodels are available that contain dermal, epidermal and the relevant neuronal components. The primary objective of this study was to produce and maintain a 3-D in vitro model of human skin containing these elements. The relevant neuronal component was supplied by adding sensory neurons derived from the dorsal root ganglion (DRG). Since adult neuronal cells do not grow significantly in vivo or in vitro, and since it is very difficult to obtain such cells from humans, it was necessary to employ embryonic rat DRG cells. The ultimate purpose of this model is to improve prediction of the in vivo skin irritancy potential of chemicals and formulations, without the need to use animal models. In addition, this approach has also been applied to the in vitro human eye and bronchial 3-D models being developed in the FRAME Alternatives Laboratory.
An Evaluation of the Effects of Photoactivation of Bithionol, Amiodarone and Chlorpromazine on Human Keratinocytes In Vitro
Linzi Reid, Nancy Khammo and Richard H. Clothier
Human skin is a continual target for chemical toxicity, due to its constant exposure to xenobiotics. The skin possesses a number of protective antioxidant systems, including glutathione and enzymic pathways, which are capable of neutralising reactive oxygen species (ROS). In combination with certain chemicals, the presence of ROS might augment the levels of toxicity, due to photoactivation of the chemical or, alternatively, due to an oxidatively-stressed state in the skin which exisited prior to exposure to the chemical. Bithionol is a phototoxic anti-parasitic compound. The mechanism of its toxicity and the possible methods of protection from its damaging effects have been explored. The capacity of keratinocytes to protect themselves from bithionol and other phototoxic chemicals has been investigated. In addition, the potential of endogenous antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E, to afford protection to the cells, has been evaluated. The intracellular glutathione stores of HaCaT keratinocytes were reduced following treatment with biothionol. Following photoactivation, both bithionol and chlorpromazine had similar effects, which suggests that glutathione is important in the detoxification pathway of these chemicals. This was confirmed by means of the visual identification of fluorescently-labelled glutathione. Endogenous antioxidants were unable to protect the HaCaT keratinocytes from bithionol toxicity or chlorpromazine phototoxicity. Amiodarone was shown to have no effect on cellular glutathione levels, which suggests that an alternative mechanism of detoxification was occurring in this case. This was supported by evidence of the protection of HaCaT cells from amiodarone phototoxicity via endogenous antioxidants. Thus, it appears that amiodarone toxicity is dependent on the levels of non-gluathione antioxidants present, whilst bithionol and chlorpromazine detoxification relies on the glutathione antioxidant system. This type of approach could indicate the likely mechanisms of phototoxicity of chemicals in vitro, with relevance to potential effects in vivo.
Laurens N. Ruben, Richard H. Clothier and Michael Balls
While spontaneous tumours may occasionally develop in inbred and isogenic strains of Xenopus laevis, the South African clawed toad, they are extremely rare in natural and laboratory populations. Only two amphibian neoplasms, the renal adenocarcinoma of Rana pipiens and the lymphosarcoma of Xenopus laevis, have been extensively explored. Amphibians are resistant to the development of neoplasia, even following exposure to “direct-acting” chemical carcinogens such as N-methyl-N-nitrosourea, that are highly lymphotoxic, thus diminishing immune reactivity. Regenerative capacity in adults, and a dramatic metamorphosis which remodels much of the larval body to produce the adult form, are unique to amphibian vertebrates, and the control mechanisms involved may protect against cancer. For example, naturally rising corticosteroid titres during metamorphosis will impair some T-cell functions, and the removal of T-regulatory (suppressor) functions inhibits the induction of altered-self tolerance. Altered-self tolerance is not as effectively induced in adult Xenopus laevis as in mammals, so cancer cells with new antigenicity are more likely be rejected in amphibians. Amphibian immunocytes tend to undergo apoptosis readily in vitro, and, unlike mammalian immunocytes, undergo apoptosis without entering the cell cycle. Cells not in the cell cycle that die from nuclear damage (apoptosis), will have no opportunity to express genetic instability leading to cell transformation. We suggest that all these factors, rather than any one of them, may reduce susceptibility to cancer in amphibians.