neutral red uptake

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Non-animal Replacements for Acute Toxicity Testing

Carol Barker-Treasure, Kevin Coll, Nathalie Belot, Chris Longmore, Karl Bygrave, Suzanne Avey and Richard Clothier

Current approaches to predicting adverse effects in humans from acute toxic exposure to cosmetic ingredients still heavily necessitate the use of animals under EU legislation, particularly in the context of the REACH system, when cosmetic ingredients are also destined for use in other industries. These include the LD50 test, the Up-and-Down Procedure and the Fixed Dose Procedure, which are regarded as having notable scientific deficiencies and low transferability to humans. By expanding on previous in vitro tests, such as the animal cell-based 3T3 Neutral Red Uptake (NRU) assay, this project aims to develop a truly animal-free predictive test for the acute toxicity of cosmetic ingredients in humans, by using human-derived cells and a prediction model that does not rely on animal data. The project, funded by Innovate UK, will incorporate the NRU assay with human dermal fibroblasts in animal product-free culture, to generate an in vitro protocol that can be validated as an accepted replacement for the currently available in vivo tests. To date, the project has successfully completed an assessment of the robustness and reproducibility of the method, by using sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) as a positive control, and displaying analogous results to those of the original studies with mouse 3T3 cells. Currently, the testing of five known ingredients from key groups (a surfactant, a preservative, a fragrance, a colour and an emulsifier) is under way. The testing consists of initial range-finding runs followed by three valid runs of a main experiment with the appropriate concentration ranges, to generate IC50 values. Expanded blind trials of 20 ingredients will follow. Early results indicate that this human cell-based test holds the potential to replace aspects of in vivo animal acute toxicity testing, particularly with reference to cosmetic ingredients.
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The Neutral Red Uptake Assay: Comments on the Results of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità in the EC/HO Validation Study

Annalaura Stammati, Franco Zampaglioni and Cristiana Zanetti

The neutral red uptake (NRU) assay was included, among others, in a validation study sponsored by the European Commission/British Home Office (EC/HO) study, for its reliability as an in vitro alternative to the Draize eye irritancy test. The test was performed in parallel by four laboratories (Istituto Superiore di Sanità [ISS], Microbiological Associates, Hatano
Research Institute and Kurabo Industries) on 60 selected chemicals. The results obtained by the ISS are reported in this paper. A poor rank correlation was obtained between the in vivo endpoint and the ISS in vitro results for the full set of chemicals and for the subsets, with the exception of surfactants, by an independent statistics group. The same unsatisfactory results were obtained by the ISS group when the rank correlation was calculated for compounds divided into chemical groups. The performance of the NRU assay, as an alternative to the Draize eye irritancy test, is discussed.
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Cytotoxicity of the MEIC Reference Chemicals in Antioxidant-enriched Rat Hepatoma-derived Fa32 cells

Paul J. Dierickx, Claudia Smit and Ellen M. Scheers

Since vitamin E increases the antioxidant status of cells, its influence on cytotoxicity was investigated. The neutral red uptake (NRU) inhibition effects of 39 MEIC reference chemicals were measured after treatment of rat hepatoma-derived Fa32 cells in the presence of vitamin E for 30 minutes. The results were quantified in terms of the NI50, the concentration of test compound required to reduce the NRU by 50%. Sodium chloride was the only chemical that was more toxic in the presence of vitamin E. This effect was related to the concentration of vitamin E in the cell culture medium. A vitamin E dose-related response was also observed for the decreased toxicity of paracetamol and caffeine. Glutathione levels were slightly increased in the presence of vitamin E, which could contribute to the protective effect of vitamin E. Of the remaining chemicals, 50% were less toxic in the presence of vitamin E, but the correlation with the acute human toxicity data of the MEIC study was not improved. The results imply that reactive oxygen species interfere with the toxicity of a high proportion of toxic chemicals. The assay described provides a quick and easy method for checking whether reactive oxygen species contribute to the toxicity of a chemical.
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An Evaluation of the In Vitro Cytotoxicities of 50 Chemicals by using an Electrical Current Exclusion Method versus the Neutral Red Uptake and MTT Assays

Toni Lindl, Birgit Lewandowski, Sonya Schreyögg and Andrea Stäudte

According to the 2001 National Institutes of Health guidance document on using in vitro data to estimate in vivo starting doses for acute toxicity, the performance of the electrical current exclusion method (ECE) was studied for its suitability as an in vitro cytotoxicity test. In a comparative study, two established in vitro assays based on the quantification of metabolic processes necessary for cell proliferation or organelle integrity (the MTT/WST-8 [WST-8] assay and the neutral red uptake [NRU] assay), and two cytoplasm membrane integrity assays (the trypan blue exclusion [TB] and ECE methods), were performed. IC50 values were evaluated for 50 chemicals ranging from low to high toxicity, 46 of which are listed in Halle’s Registry of Cytotoxicity (RC). A high correlation was found between the IC50 values obtained in this study and the IC50 data published in the RC. The assay sensitivity was highest for the ECE method, and decreased from the WST-8 assay to the NRU assay to the TB assay. The consistent results of the ECE method are based on technical standardisation, high counting rate, and the ability to combine cell viability and cell volume analysis for detection of the first signs of cell necrosis and damage of the cytoplasmic membrane caused by cytotoxic agents.
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