In Vitro Tests for Haematotoxicity: Prediction of Drug-induced Myelosuppression by the CFU-GM Assay

Augusto Pessina, Beatriz Albella, Maria Bayo, Juan Bueren, Paul Brantom, Silvia Casati, Cristina Croera, Ralph Parchment, Dominique Parent-Massin, Greet Schoeters, Yann Sibiri, Rosette Van Den Heuvel and Laura Gribaldo

In a prevalidation study, a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for human and mouse in vitro tests was developed, for evaluating the potential haematotoxicity of xenobiotics in terms of their direct, adverse effects on the myeloid colony-forming unit (CFU-GM). Based on the adjustment of the mousederived maximum tolerated dose (MTD), a prediction model was set up to calculate the human MTD, and an international blind trial was designed to apply this model to the clinical neutropenia of 23 drugs including 17 antineoplastics. The model correctly predicted the human MTD for 20 drugs out of the 23 (87%). This high percentage of predictivity, and the reproducibility of the SOP testing, confirmed the scientific validation of this model, and suggested promising applications for developing and validating other in vitro methods for use in haematotoxicology.
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A Methylcellulose Microculture Assay for the In Vitro Assessment of Drug Toxicity on Granulocyte/macrophage Progenitors (CFU-GM)

Augusto Pessina, Cristina Croera, Maria Bayo, Ilaria Malerba, Laura Passardi, Loredana Cavicchini, Maria G. Neri and Laura Gribaldo

In a recent prevalidation study, the use of a methylcellulose colony-forming unit-granulocyte/macrophage (CFU-GM) macroassay for two independent in vitro tests (human and murine cell based) was suggested for quantifying the potential haematotoxicity of xenobiotics. In this paper, we describe the transfer of the macroassay to a 96-well plate microassay, in which the linearity of the response was studied (both in terms of CFU-GM and optical density [OD] versus the number of cells cultured), and the inhibitory concentration (IC) values for doxorubicin, 5-fluorouracil and taxol were determined and compared with those obtained by using the original macroassay. Fresh murine bone marrow and human umbilical cord blood mononuclear cells were used as a source of myeloid progenitors. The cells were cultured in methylcellulose containing ranulocyte/macrophage-colony-stimulating factor, and in the presence of increasing drug concentrations. The cloning capacity of the progenitors was measured both as the number of colonies counted manually (CFU-GM), and as OD evaluated with an automated plate reader in an MTT test. Our results show that, in the microassay, up to 20 colonies/well could be easily counted, and that this range (20 to zero) gave a regression line from which IC values were calculated, which were very close to those obtained by using the macroassay (where the range of colony numbers was from 100 to zero). The test did not give good results when the OD (instead of the colony count) was used as the endpoint, because, although a high coefficient of determination was obtained, the OD values ranged from 0.6 to zero and the IC values determined were not comparable to those obtained by manual counts. The use of the microassay dramatically reduces the quantity of methylcellulose needed, and permits hundreds of cultures to be processed in the same experiment, contributing to significant reductions in both the work involved and the cost. A further important benefit is a reduction of the amount of drug needed for testing, which is crucial for screening new molecules, when many different toxicological tests have to be carried out. The microassay is therefore a useful and reproducible tool for screening compounds (chemicals, drugs and xenobiotics) for potential haematotoxicity directly on human myeloid progenitors, and could contribute significantly to reducing the use of animals in toxicity testing.
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Prevalidation of the Rat CFU-GM Assay for In Vitro Toxicology Applications

Augusto Pessina, Arianna Bonomi, Loredana Cavicchini, Beatriz Albella, Laura Cerrato, Dominique Parent-Massin, Yann Sibiril, Ralph Parchment, Holger Behrsing, Paolo Verderio, Sara Pizzamiglio, Manuela Giangreco, Carolina Baglio, Valentina Coccè, Francesca Sisto and Laura Gribaldo

In vitro haematotoxicity assays are thought to have the potential to significantly reduce and refine the use of animals for haematotoxicity testing. These assays are used successfully in all types of studies — however, their use is not so common in human toxicology studies in the preclinical setting, as they are not required for regulatory testing in this case. Furthermore, these assays could play a key role in bridging the gap between preclinical toxicology studies in animal models and clinical investigations. In previous studies, the Colony Forming Unit-Granulocyte Macrophage (CFU-GM) assay has been validated for testing drug haematotoxicity (with both mouse bone-marrow and human cord blood) and for predicting the in vivo human maximal tolerated dose (MTD) by adjusting in vivo data on mouse toxicity. Recently, a Colony Forming Unit-Megakaryocyte (CFU-MK) assay has also been prevalidated for testing drug toxicity toward megakaryocytes. The rat CFU-GM assay has been used by many researchers for its ability to evaluate in vitrohaematotoxicity. Although it is not yet available, a standardised procedure for data comparison could be very important, since the rat is the most widely-used species for the in vivo testing of toxicants. This report presents the results of the prevalidation study developed to analyse the intra-laboratory and inter-laboratory variability of a standardised operating procedure for this assay and its performance for the in vitro determination of the inhibitory concentration (IC) values of drugs on rat myeloid progenitors (CFU-GM). The results demonstrate that the CFU-GM assay can be performed with cryopreserved rat bone-marrow cells (rBMC). The assay represents a useful tool for evaluating the toxicity of a compound, in terms of both relative toxicity (when different molecules are compared) and the prediction of the degree of in vivo toxicity. The use of this assay could greatly reduce the number of rats used in experimental procedures, and could also contribute to the accumulation of more toxicity data on compounds to be registered according to the criteria established by the European Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) programme.
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