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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Prediction of Human Acute Toxicity by the Hep G2/24- hour/Total Protein Assay, with Protein Measurement by the CBQCA Method


Paul J. Dierickx

In our previously described Hep G2/24-hour/total protein assay, protein levels were measured by using the Lowry method. This assay was the best acute in vitro assay for the prediction of human toxicity within the Multicentre Evaluation of In Vitro Cytotoxicity (MEIC) study. In order to increase the MEIC data-base with a wider range of chemicals, we were interested in introducing the more practical 3-(4-carboxybenzoyl)-quinoline-2-carboxaldehyde (CBQCA) method for the quantification of the total protein content. Therefore, we investigated whether the same good results for the prediction of acute human toxicity would be obtained with the CBQCA method. The cells were treated for 24 hours, then cytotoxicity was determined by measuring the total protein content with CBQCA. The results were quantified by using the PI50c: the concentration (in mM) of test compound required to reduce the total protein content measured with the CBQCA-method by 50% as compared to the control cells. The results were compared with the PI50, the corresponding value when the Lowry method was used. A relatively low correlation was observed between PI50 and PI50c, reflecting the large and unexpected, differences when using the two protein assays. However, when comparing the log PI50c with the human toxicity, a correlation coefficient of r² = 0.761 (n = 44) was obtained for exactly the same series of MEIC chemicals. This value is clearly higher than that for the Lowry method (r² = 0.695). Compared to the Lowry method originally used, the Hep G2/24-hour/CBQCA total protein assay has the additional important advantage that it can be very easily adapted for large-scale analyses with robotic systems, including the on-line calculation of the results.