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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Modeling Bioavailable Concentrations in Zebrafish Cell Lines and Embryos Increases the Correlation of Toxicity Potencies across Test Systems

Lungu-Mitea, Sebastian; Vogs, Carolina; Carlsson, Gunnar; Montag, Maximiliane; Frieberg, Kim; Oskarsson, Agneta; Lundqvist, Johan


Linking cellular toxicity to low-tier animal toxicity and beyond is crucial within the adverse outcome pathway concept and the 3R framework. This study aimed to determine and compare the bioavailable effect concentrations in zebrafish cell lines and embryos. Acute, short-term toxicity (48 h) of eight veterinary pharmaceuticals was measured in two zebrafish cell lines (hepatocytes, fibroblasts) and zebrafish embryos. Seven endpoints of cytotoxicity were recorded. The fish embryo acute toxicity test was modified by adding sublethal endpoints. Chemical distribution modeling (mass balance) was applied to compute the bioavailable compound concentrations in cells (C-free) and embryos (C-int;aq) based on nominal effect concentrations (C-nom). Effect concentration ratios were calculated (cell effects/embryo effects). A low correlation was observed between cytotoxicity and embryo toxicity when nominal concentrations were used. Modeled bioavailable effect concentrations strongly increased correlations and placed regression lines close to the line of unity and axis origin. Cytotoxicity endpoints showed differences in sensitivity and predictability. The hepatocyte cell line depicted closer proximity to the embryo data. Conclusively, the high positive correlation between the cell- and embryo-based test systems emphasizes the appropriate modulation of toxicity when linked to bioavailable concentrations. Furthermore, it highlights the potential of fish cell lines to be utilized in integrated testing strategies.

Published in

Environmental Science and Technology
2021, Volume: 55, number: 1, pages: 447-457