Optimisation of the Bovine Whole In Vitro Embryo System as a Sentinel for Toxicity Screening: A Cadmium Challenge

Ellen P.A. Jorssen, Lucia Vergauwen, Karen Goossens, An Hagenaars, Mario Van Poucke, Evi Petro, Luc Peelman, Dries Knapen, Jo L.M.R. Leroy and Peter E.J. Bols

Developmental toxicity testing could greatly benefit from the availability of an in vitro alternative model based on the use of animal embryos that have better human-like physiology than the currently-used alternative models. These current models are insufficient, as extrapolation of the results can be challenging. Therefore, an in vitro bovine embryo culture system was used to expose individual morulae to test substances, and to study developmental characteristics up to the blastocyst stage. Cadmium was chosen as the reference toxicant to investigate the sensitivity of the bovine morulae to various concentrations and exposure times. Oocytes from slaughterhouse-obtained bovine ovaries, were maturated, fertilised and cultured up until the morula stage. Morulae were exposed to different cadmium concentrations for 18 or 70 hours, and developmental competence, embryo quality and the expression of cadmium exposure related genes were evaluated. Cadmium exposure hampered embryonic developmental competence and quality. Compared with the 18-hour exposure, the 70-hour exposure induced a 20-fold higher toxic response with regard to developmental competence and a more ‘cadmium-typical’ transcript expression. The bovine morula might be a promising tool for toxicity testing as, following exposure, the embryos reacted in a sensitive and ‘cadmium-typical’ manner to our reference toxicant.
You need to register (for free) to download this article. Please log in/register here.

The ECVAM International Validation Study on In Vitro Embryotoxicity Tests: Results of the Definitive Phase and Evaluation of Prediction Models

Elke Genschow, Horst Spielmann, Gabriele Scholz, Andrea Seiler, Nigel Brown, Aldert Piersma, Madeleine Brady, Nicole Clemann, Hannele Huuskonen, Francoise Paillard, Susanne Bremer and Klaus Becker

From 1996 to 2000, ZEBET (Centre for Documentation and Evaluation of Alternative Methods to Animal Experiments at the BgVV, Berlin, Germany) coordinated the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) prevalidation and validation study on three embryotoxicity tests: a) a test employing embryonic stem cell lines (EST); b) the micromass (MM) test; and c) the postimplantation rat whole-embryo culture assay (WEC test). The main objectives of the study were to assess the performance of these three in vitro tests in discriminating between non-embryotoxic, weakly embryotoxic and strongly embryotoxic compounds. Phase I of the study (1997) was designed as a prevalidation phase, for test protocol optimisation, and for the establishment of a comprehensive database of in vivo and in vitro data on embryotoxic compounds. Phase II (1998-2000) involved a formal validation trial, conducted under blind conditions on 20 test compounds selected from the database, which were coded and distributed to the participating laboratories. In the preliminary phase of the validation study, six chemicals out of the 20, which showed embryotoxic potential, were tested. These results were used to define new biostatistically based prediction models (PMs) for the MM and WEC tests, and to evaluate those developed previously for the EST. As a next step, the PMs were evaluated by using the results for the remaining 14 chemicals of the definitive phase of the validation study. The three in vitro embryotoxicity tests proved to be applicable to testing a diverse group of chemicals with different embryotoxic potentials (non-embryotoxic, weakly embryotoxic, and strongly embryotoxic). The reproducibility of the three in vitro embryotoxicity tests were acceptable according to the acceptance criteria defined by the Management Team. The concordances between the embryotoxic potentials derived from the in vitro data and from the in vivo data were good for the EST and the WEC (PM2) test, and sufficient for the MM test and the WEC (PM1) tests according to the performance criteria defined by the Management Team before the formal validation study. When applying the PM of the EST to the in vitro data obtained in the definitive phase of the formal validation study, chemicals were classified correctly in 78% of the experiments. For the MM and the WEC tests, the PMs provided 70% and 80% (PM2) correct classifications, respectively. And, very importantly, an excellent predictivity (100%, except for PM1 of the WEC test, with 79%, considered as good) was obtained with strongly embryotoxic chemicals in each of the three in vitro tests.
You need to register (for free) to download this article. Please log in/register here.

Arsenic Toxicity and HSP70 Expression in Xenopus laevis Embryos

Rosalba Gornati, Claudio Monetti, Davide Vigetti, Stefano Bosisio, Salvador Fortaner, Enrico Sabbioni, Giovanni Bernardini and Mariangela Prati

The evaluation of the effect of trace metals on health can be difficult, because of their presence in the environment in various chemical forms. Exposure to arsenic compounds is an example of this complexity, as it can be present in the environment in inorganic and organic forms. The effects of arsenic in vertebrates are complicated by several variables, such as speciation of the element, the exposure route, and the susceptibility of the particular animal species. The embryotoxicity and teratogenicity of three arsenic species - sodium arsenite (NaAsO2), disodium hydrogen arsenate (Na2HAsO4) and dimethylarsinic acid [(CH3)2AsOOH] - were evaluated by the modified frog embryo teratogenic assay on Xenopus (FETAX). We also show how the classical FETAX endpoints, based on morphological and morphometrical analysis, can conveniently be integrated with the study of molecular markers. Possible changes in the expression of the mRNA for the heat-shock protein HSP70, following exposure to NaAsO2, were examined by using the reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. HSP70 mRNA is strongly induced by arsenic.
You need to register (for free) to download this article. Please log in/register here.

Validation Successes: Chemicals

Horst Spielmann and Manfred Liebsch

The ECVAM validation concept, which was defined at two validation workshops held in Amden (Switzerland) in 1990 and 1994, and which takes into account the essential elements of prevalidation and biostatistically defined prediction models, has been officially accepted by European Union (EU) Member States, by the Federal regulatory agencies of the USA, and by the OECD. The ECVAM validation concept was introduced into the ongoing ECVAM/COLIPA validation study of in vitro phototoxicity tests, which ended successfully in 1998. The 3T3 neutral red uptake in vitro phototoxicity test was the first experimentally validated in vitro toxicity test recommended for regulatory purposes by the ECVAM Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC). It was accepted by the EU into the legislation for chemicals in the year 2000. From 1996 to 1998, two in vitro skin corrosivity tests were successfully validated by ECVAM, and they were also officially accepted into the EU regulations for chemicals in the year 2000. Meanwhile, in 2002, the OECD Test Guidelines Programme is considering the worldwide acceptance of the validated in vitro phototoxicity and corrosivity tests. Finally, from 1997 to 2000, an ECVAM validation study on three in vitro embryotoxicity tests was successfully completed. Therefore, the three in vitro embryotoxicity tests, the whole embryo culture (WEC) test on rat embryos, the micromass (MM) test on limb bud cells of mouse embryos, and the embryonic stem cell test (EST) including a permanent embryonic mouse stem cell line, are considered to be scientifically valid and appropriate for routine use in laboratories of the European pharmaceutical and chemicals industries.
You need to register (for free) to download this article. Please log in/register here.

Development of a Testing Strategy for Detecting Embryotoxic Hazards of Chemicals In Vitro by using Embryonic Stem Cell Models

Susanne Bremer, Cristian Pellizzer, Sarah Adler, Martin Paparella and Jan de Lange

The importance of developing in vitro tests for embryotoxicity is discussed, and ECVAM's work with its collaborators is summarised. Studies are in progress to find new endpoints for use in the scientifically validated embryonic stem (ES) cell test, so that the potential for chemical effects on endodermal, mesodermal and/or ectodermal differentiation can be identified. This involves, inter alia, the use of genetically modified ES cells.
You need to register (for free) to download this article. Please log in/register here.

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.
You need to register (for free) to download this article. Please log in/register here.