basal cytotoxicity

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MEIC Evaluation of Acute Systemic Toxicity

Björn Ekwall, Frank A. Barile, Argelia Castano, Cecilia Clemedson, Richard H. Clothie, Paul Dierickx, Barbro Ekwall, Margherita Ferro, Geirid Fiskesjö, Lourdes Garza-Ocañas, Maria José Gómez-Lechón, Michael Gülden, Tony Hall, Boris Isomaa, Anne Kahru, Gustaw Kerszman, Udo Kristen, Manabu Kunimoto, Sirpa Kärenlampi, Lillemor Lewan, Anatoly Loukianov, Tadao Ohno, Guido Persoone, Lennart Romert, Thomas W. Sawyer, Ravi Shrivastava, Helmut Segner, Annalaura Stammati, Noriho Tanaka, Matteo Valentino, Erik Walum and Flavia Zucco

The Multicenter Evaluation of In Vitro Cytotoxicity (MEIC) programme was set up to evaluate the relevance for human acute toxicity of in vitro cytotoxicity tests. At the end of the project in 1996, 29 laboratories had tested all 50 reference chemicals in 61 cytotoxicity assays. Five previous articles have presented the in vitro data and the human database to be used in the evaluation. This article presents three important parts of the final evaluation: a) a comparison of rat and mouse oral LD50 with human acute lethal doses for all 50 chemicals; b) a display of the correlations between IC50 (concentration causing 50% inhibition) values from all 61 assays and three independent sets of human acute lethal blood concentrations, i.e. clinical lethal concentrations, forensic lethal concentrations, and peak concentrations; and c) a series of comparisons between average IC50 values from ten human cell line 24-hour assays and human lethal blood concentrations. In the latter comparisons, results from correlations were linked with known human toxicity data for the chemicals, to provide an understanding of correlative results. This correlative/mechanistic approach had the double purpose of assessing the relevance of the in vitro cytotoxicities, and of testing a series of hypotheses connected with the basal cytotoxicity concept. The results of the studies were as follows. Rat LD50 predictions of human lethal dosage were only relatively good (R2 = 0.61), while mouse LD50s gave a somewhat better prediction (R2 = 0.65). Comparisons performed between IC50 values from the 61 assays and the human lethal peak concentrations demonstrated that human cell line tests gave the best average results (R2 = 0.64), while mammalian and fish cell tests correlated less well (R2 = 0.52–0.58), followed by non-fish ecotoxicological tests (R2 = 0.36). Most of the 61 assays underpredicted human toxicity for digoxin, malathion, carbon tetrachloride and atropine sulphate. In the correlative/mechanistic study, the 50 chemicals were first separated into three groups: A = fast-acting chemicals with a restricted passage across the blood–brain barrier; B = slow-acting chemicals with a restricted passage across the blood–brain barrier; and C = chemicals which cross the blood–brain barrier freely, while inducing a non-specific excitation/depression of the central nervous system (CNS). The IC50 values for chemicals in group C were divided by a factor of ten to compensate for a hypothetical extra vulnerability of the CNS to cytotoxicity. Finally, the average human cell line IC50 values (24-hour IC50 for groups A and C, and after 48-hour for group B) were compared with relevant human lethal blood concentrations (peak concentrations for groups A and C, and 48-hour concentrations for group B). As a result, in vitro toxicity and in vivo toxicity correlated very well for all groups (R2 = 0.98, 0.82 and 0.85, respectively). No clear overprediction of human toxicity was made by the human cell tests. The human cell line tests underpredicted human toxicity for only four of the 50 chemicals. These outlier chemicals were digoxin, malathion, nicotine and atropine sulphate, all of which have a lethal action in man through interaction with specific target sites not usually found in cell lines. Potassium cyanide has a cellular human lethal action which cannot be measured by standard anaerobic cell lines. The good prediction of the human lethal whole-blood concentration of this chemical was not conclusive, i.e. was probably a “false good correlation”. Another two chemicals in group C resulted in “false good correlations”, i.e. paracetamol and paraquat. The comparisons thus indicated that human cell line cytotoxicities are relevant for the human acute lethal action for 43 of the 50 chemicals. The results strongly support the basal cytotoxicity concept, and further point to the non-specific CNS depression being the obligatory reaction of humans to cytotoxic concentrations of chemicals, provided that the chemicals are able to pass the blood–brain barrier.
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EDIT: A New International Multicentre Programme to Develop and Evaluate Batteries of In Vitro Tests for Acute and Chronic Systemic Toxicity

Björn Ekwall, Cecilia Clemedson, Barbro Ekwall, Patrik Ring and Lennart Romert

The Multicenter Evaluation of In Vitro Cytotoxicity (MEIC) programme provided a battery of three basal cytotoxicity tests with a good (R2 = 0.77) prediction of human acute lethal blood concentrations. The predictive power of this battery would be considerably improved by the addition of new supplementary in vitro tests. The development of these new tests will be facilitated by a close coupling of test development to evaluation. The Cytotoxicology Laboratory, Uppsala (CTLU), is therefore inviting all interested in vitro toxicologists to take part in the Evaluation-guided Development of In Vitro Toxicity and Toxicokinetic Tests (EDIT). All EDIT activities (subprojects) will be designed on a case-by-case basis, but will follow a common pattern. The CTLU will use the accumulated MEIC/EDIT data, and its experience from the previous MEIC evaluation, to suggest priority areas, i.e. the need for certain in vitro toxicity data/tests as supplements to existing in vitro models/batteries on human systemic toxicity. Detailed research programmes corresponding to these areas will be published on the Internet. The CTLU will also try to raise funds for some projects and will coordinate multilaboratory studies. Interested laboratories developing or already using priority tests are encouraged to join the subprojects and to test specific sets of substances (usually sets of MEIC reference chemicals) in their new assays. The CTLU will provide adequate human reference data and will also evaluate results as single components of complex models, together with the laboratory conducting the test. At present, ten priority areas have been identified: a) repeat dose toxicity in vitro; b) urgent mechanistic information from in vitro studies of protein denaturation, morphology of cell injury, differential toxicity between various rapidly measured endpoints (10–60 minutes) and 24-hour cytotoxicity, toxicity to aerobic cells, and discrimination between rapid and slow cytotoxic mechanisms; c) in vitro tests on vitally important, specific receptor toxicity in humans; d) excitatory cytotoxicity; e) reversibility of cell toxicity; f) in vitro tests on passage across the blood–brain barrier; g) in vitro tests on absorption in the gut; h) protein binding in vitro; i) in vitro tests on distribution volumes (Vd); and j) in vitro tests on biotransformation to more-toxic metabolites (hepatocytes plus target cells). This paper gives a short presentation of the rationale for each subproject and reports on ongoing activities.
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MEIC Evaluation of Acute Systemic Toxicity

Björn Ekwall, Barbro Ekwall and Michael Sjöström

The Multicenter Evaluation of In vitro Cytotoxicity (MEIC) programme was set up to evaluate the relevance for human acute toxicity of in vitro cytotoxicity tests. A total of 61 assays were used to test all 50 reference chemicals. The results of all the tests and the human database were presented in the first five papers of this series. An evaluation of the relevance for human acute toxicity of all submitted test results with use of hard linear regression modelling was presented in the next two papers, and demonstrated a high relevance of in vitro tests, notably tests involving human cell lines. In the present study, multivariate partial least square (PLS) modelling with latent variables analysis has been used to reach two objectives. The first objective was to study the prediction of human acute toxicity by the 61 assays. The second objective
was to select a practical battery from the 61 assays, with an optimal prediction of lethal blood concentrations from human acute poisonings of the chemicals. A two-component PLS model of all 61 assays predicted three sets of lethal blood concentrations (clinical, forensic and peak concentrations) very well (R2 = 0.77, 0.76 and 0.83, Q2 = 0.74, 0.72 and 0.81, respectively), providing correlative evidence for a high relevance for human acute toxicity of most of the assays. The assays with human cells were highly predictive, whereas assays with very short incubation times and non-fish ecotoxicological assays were least predictive. These findings confirm the previous results from linear regression analysis. To select an optimal battery, 24 successive PLS models of in vitro data were compared with lethal peak concentrations. The battery selection was based on 38 chemicals with reliable and relevant lethal peak concentrations. An initial PLS model of all 61 assays was used to select the 15 most predictive and most distinct assays. Subsequent PLS models were used to measure the decrease in prediction when assays were deleted from the 15-test battery, as well as the increase in prediction when some extrapredictive assays (as identified by the deletion process) were added later to an optimal two-test battery. The most predictive three-test battery (R2 = 0.79 and Q2 = 0.78 for all 50 chemicals) included two circumstantial assays. The most predictive and most cost-effective battery consisted of three human cell line assays, with four endpoints and two exposure times, i.e. protein content (24 hours), ATP content (24 hours), inhibition of elongation of cells (24 hours), and pHchange (7 days). This 1, 5, 9, 16 battery exclusively measures basal cytotoxicity, and is highly predictive (R2 = 0.77 and Q2 = 0.76 for 50 chemicals) of the actual lethal peak blood concentrations from acute poisonings in humans. The battery prediction compares favourably with the prediction of human lethal dose by a PLS model of rat and mouse 50% lethal dose (LD50) values for the 50 chemicals (R2 = 0.65 and Q2 = 0.64). The three assays of the battery and other promising MEIC assays should be formally validated as soon as possible. The battery can be used immediately for several non-
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Protein Precipitation In Vitro as a Measure of Chemical-induced Cytotoxicity: an EDIT Sub-programme

Apolonia Novillo, Barbro Ekwall and Argelia Castaño

As a priority area of the Evaluation-Guided Development of In Vitro Toxicity and Toxicokinetic Tests (EDIT) programme, an in vitro protein precipitation (PP) assay was used on the 50 reference chemicals of the Multicentre Evaluation of In Vitro Cytotoxicity (MEIC) project, to confirm and extend the MEIC results. Dose–response curves were generated for only 30 of the chemicals, and the concentrations causing 10% (EC10) and 50% (EC50) protein precipitation versus the positive control were chosen as endpoints. The number of chemicals with a positive response increased to 46 when a new endpoint, the minimum effect concentration (MEC) that induces protein precipitation with respect to the negative control, was used. When the results were correlated with in vitro cytotoxicity in human cell lines, a similarly good correlation was found between the various endpoints of the PP assay at 5 hours and the 24-hour IC50 average cytotoxicity in human cell lines, even though the number of chemicals included in the correlation was larger for the MEC. Using the prediction error, the endpoint that gave the best correlation between the PP assay and human cell cytotoxicity was once more found to be the 5-hour MEC, and this was chosen for the PP assay. The sensitivity of the PP assay is lower than that of the in vitro cell-line cytotoxicity assay, possibly due to its shorter exposure period and because precipitation is the ultimate event in the sequence of a protein disturbance. It is expected that earlier denaturation steps would give better sensitivity. However, thi
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Development of an In Vitro Test Battery for the Estimation of Acute Human Systemic Toxicity: An Outline of the EDIT Project

Cecilia Clemedson, Marika Nordin-Andersson, Henning F. Bjerregaard, Jørgen Clausen, Anna Forsby, Helena Gustafsson, Ulrika Hansson, Boris Isomaa, Carsten Jørgensen, Ada Kolman, Natalia Kotova, Gunter Krause, Udo Kristen, Kalle Kurppa, Lennart Romert and Ellen Scheers

The aim of the Evaluation-guided Development of New In Vitro Test Batteries (EDIT) multicentre programme is to establish and validate in vitro tests relevant to toxicokinetics and for organ-specific toxicity, to be incorporated into optimal test batteries for the estimation of human acute systemic toxicity. The scientific basis of EDIT is the good prediction of human acute toxicity obtained with three human cell line tests (R2 = 0.77), in the Multicentre Evaluation of In Vitro Cytotoxicity (MEIC) programme. However, the results from the MEIC study indicated that at least two other types of in vitro test ought to be added to the existing test battery to improve the prediction of human acute systemic toxicity - to determine key kinetic events (such as biotransformation and passage through biological barriers), and to predict crucial organ-specific mechanisms not covered by the tests in the MEIC battery. The EDIT programme will be a case-by-case project, but the establishment and validation of new tests will be carried through by a common, step-wise procedure. The Scientific Committee of the EDIT programme defines the need for a specific set of toxicity or toxicokinetic data. Laboratories are then invited to perform the defined tests in order to provide the "missing" data for the EDIT reference chemicals. The results obtained will be evaluated against the MEMO (the MEIC Monograph programme) database, i.e. against human acute systemic lethal and toxicity data. The aim of the round-table discussions at the 19th Scandinavian Society for Cell Toxicology (SSCT) workshop, held in Ringsted, Denmark on 6-9 September 2001, was to identify which tests are the most important for inclusion in the MEIC battery, i.e. which types of tests the EDIT programme should focus on. It was proposed that it is important to include in vitro methods for various kinetic events, such as biotransformation, absorption in the gut, passage across the blood-brain barrier, distribution volumes, protein binding, and renal clearance/accumulation. Models for target organ toxicity were also discussed. Because several of the outlier chemicals (paracetamol, digoxin, malathion, nicotine, paraquat, atropine and
potassium cyanide) in the MEIC in vivo-in vitro evaluation have a neurotoxic potential, it was proposed that
the development within the EDIT target organ programme should initially be focused on the nervous system.
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Cytotoxicity Assays with Fish Cells as an Alternative to the Acute Lethality Test with Fish

Helmut Segner

In ecotoxicology, in vitro assays with fish cells are currently applied for mechanistic studies, bioanalytical purposes and toxicity screening. This paper discusses the potential of cytotoxicity assays with fish cells to reduce, refine or replace acute lethality tests using fish. Basal cytotoxicity data obtained with fish cell lines or fish primary cell cultures show a reasonable to good correlation with lethality data from acute toxicity tests, with the exception of compounds that exert a specific mode of toxic action. Basal cytotoxicity data from fish cell lines also correlate well with cytotoxicity data from mammalian cell lines. However, both the piscine and mammalian in vitro assays are clearly less sensitive than the fish test. Therefore, in vivo LC50 values (concentrations of the test compounds that are lethal to 50% of the fish in the experiment within 96 hours) currently cannot be predicted from in vitro values. This in vitro–in vivo difference in sensitivity appears to be true for both fish cell lines and mammalian cell lines. Given the good in vitro–in vivo correlation in toxicity ranking, together with the clear-cut difference in sensitivity, the role of cytotoxicity assays in a tiered alternative testing strategy could be in priority setting in relation to toxic hazard and in the toxicity classification of chemicals and environmental samples.
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The FRAME Alternatives Laboratory Database. 1. In Vitro Basal Cytotoxicity determined by the Kenacid Blue Total Protein Assay

Richard Clothier, Elke Gottschalg, Silvia Casati and Michael Balls

A database of over 280 chemicals has been compiled by using a mouse 3T3-L1 fibroblast-like cell line in exponential growth, exposed to chemicals for 72 hours in a 96-well tissue culture plate format, and determining cell number via the Kenacid blue (KB) assay for total protein. Ranking the chemicals according to their basal cytotoxicity, expressed as the concentration (mM) that inhibits increase in total cellular protein over 72 hours by 50% (the ID50 value) shows a wide range of ID50 values, from 0.00003mM to 10,096mM. This information includes the results for MEIC chemicals 1–50, and we have now added basal cytotoxicity data for 23 of the next 25 MEIC chemicals. When the neutral red uptake (NRU) assay was performed with the same cell cultures, before the KB assay, very similar indications of basal cytotoxicity were obtained. Comparisons between the results with 3T3-L1 cells and with a human fibroblast-like cell line, BCL-D1 showed a significant difference in order of magnitude of the ID50 value for only 5 of 52 chemicals. However, there was a difference in ID50 value of more than one order of magnitude for 8 of 24 chemicals tested with an undifferentiated teratocarcinoma cell line, F9.
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A Database of IC50 Values and Principal Component Analysis of Results from Six Basal Cytotoxicity Assays, for Use in the Modelling of the In Vivo and In Vitro Data of the EU ACuteTox Projecta

Richard Clothier, Paul Dierickx, Thaly Lakhanisky, Myriam Fabre, Monica Betanzos, Rodger Curren, Michael Sjöström, Hans Raabe, Nicola Bourne, Vanessa Hernandez, Jessica Mainez, Monika Owen, Sarah Watts and Roel Anthonissen

The main aim of the ACuteTox project (part of the EU 6th Framework programme) is to demonstrate that animal tests for acute systemic toxicity can be replaced by alternative in vitro assays. In this project, data for 97 reference chemicals were collected in the AcuBase database, designed to handle deposited in vitro and in vivo (human and animal) data. To demonstrate the applicability of in
vitro basal cytotoxicity tests and in vitro–in vivo modelling, it was deemed necessary to obtain data that were generated via defined standard operating procedures. The molar basal cytotoxicity IC50 values (the 50% inhibitory concentrations for the endpoint measured) for a mouse fibroblast cell line (3T3), a human hepatic cell line (HepG2), a rat hepatic cell line (Fa32), and a human neutrophil cell line (HL-60), were compared, and gave an R2 correlation of 0.83. To identify chemicals that showed differential cytotoxicity to the various cell types involved, principal component analysis (PCA) was undertaken independently, once all the results had been returned. This showed that colchicine, cycloheximide, digoxin, 5-fluorouracil and hexachlorobenzene gave the lowest correlations with the first score vector of the PCA. The results presented are to be used to identify outliers that need to be further studied via the use of tissue-specific in vitro assays.
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