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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Impact of natural organic matter in water on in vitro bioactivity assays

Rosenmai, Anna Kjerstine; Niss, Frida; Mandava, Geeta; Lundqvist, Johan; Oskarsson, Agneta


Surface water can be contaminated with pollutants from multiple sources and contain a vast number of various chemicals. In vitro bioassays are valuable tools to assess the total bioactivity of micropollutants in water samples. Besides anthropogenic chemicals, natural organic matter (NOM) is ubiquitous in water, which also may have an impact on the bioactivity in water samples.In the present study we investigated concentration-dependent effects of Nordic Aquatic fulvic acid (NA-FA) and Nordic reservoir NOM (NR-NOM) on bioactivity measured by a panel of luciferase reporter gene assays. The assays included measurements of both induction of activities and inhibition of induced activation on aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), androgen receptor (AR), estrogen receptor (ER), peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha, and on the nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) activity as a marker of oxidative stress.At non-cytotoxic concentrations both NA-FA and NR-NOM induced AhR activity, inhibited AR activity with and without the known inducer dihydrotestosterone, inhibited Nrf2 activity, and NR-NOM induced ER activity. The results indicate that the presence of NOM in water samples may lead to false positive results for AhR activity and false positive results for AR and Nrf2 activity, when assessing inhibition of induced bioactivities from anthropogenic substances. We have demonstrated that NA-FA and NR-NOM have an impact on in vitro bioactivities and conclude that the impact of NOM in water should be considered in the evaluation of results from bioactivity assays. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Dissolved organic carbon; Fulvic acid; Androgen receptor; Estrogen receptor; Aryl hydrocarbon receptor; Nrf2

Published in

2018, Volume: 200, pages: 209-216