Phototoxicity and Acute Toxicity Studies Conducted by the FRAME Alternatives Laboratory: A Brief Review
Richard H. Clothier
FRAME and the University of Nottingham have been in association for the past 25 years. During this time, the research in the FRAME Alternatives Laboratory (FAL) at the University of Nottingham, which is partly funded by FRAME and also, more recently, by ECVAM, has involved participation in a number of international validation studies. Validation has become a pre-requisite for the regulatory acceptance of in vitro alternative test procedures, and a number of key lessons have been learned from these studies. The directors of validation studies need to ensure that standard operating procedures (SOPs) are fully complied with, and that the equipment used is certified to be of an acceptable standard. Database managers need to be able to check the original data, and to ensure adherence to procedures agreed before the study began. When the validation study is part of an integrated EU Framework Project, such as ACute-Tox, the Workpackage Leader must have the ability to understand and evaluate the data to be presented for inclusion in the study analysis, and to check that it complies with acceptance criteria. The potential to relate observed cellular biochemical changes to morphological endpoints also increases the level of understanding of the relevance and/or limitations of an assay. For example, exposure to a surfactant can induce the temporary loss of adhesion junctions between adjacent epithelial cells, resulting in the loss of barrier integrity and other effects on cell culture activity, which can potentially be restored over time. Unexpected results from the NRU phototoxicity assay with human keratinocytes instead of 3T3 cells, stimulated research into the ability of the in vitro assay, not only to identify phototoxins, but also to identify their possible mechanisms of action and mechanisms underlying the protective capacity within human primary keratinocytes in vitro. The protective effects of UV-filters can also be used to ascertain their effects on the photoactivation of drugs.