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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Cultured Porcine Urinary Bladder Epithelial Cells as a Screening Model for Genotoxic Effects of Aromatic Amines: Characterisation and Application of the Cell Culture Model


Wolfram Föllmann, Christine Guhe, Susanne Weber, Sascha Birkner and Solveigh Mähler

Isolated epithelial cells from porcine urinary bladders were maintained in dividing long-term monolayer cultures, and were used as a model system for the urinary bladder in toxicological studies in vitro. To examine the state of differentiation during the culture period, the culture system was characterised morphologically by light and transmission electron microscopy and by immune fluorescence labelling with antibodies against cytokeratins 7,13 and pan. The cultured cells were identified as urothelial epithelium by their polarised structure, and by their expression of several uroepithelial specific morphological features, such as fusiform vesicles, tight junctions and an asymmetric apical cell membrane. Additionally, the cells were labelled with anti-cytokeratin 7, 13 and pan antibodies, and negatively with anti-vimentin antibodies. The maintenance of suitable culture conditions was shown by the stable enzyme activities of γ-glutamyltranspeptidase,alkaline phosphatase and acid phosphatase over a culture period of 4 weeks. A good viability of the cultured cells under the chosen culture conditions was shown by the presence of low amounts of lactate dehydrogenase (≤ 5%) in the culture medium. The activities of the chosen marker enzymes for cell differentiation (γ-glutamyltranspeptidase), lysosomes (acid phosphatase) and luminal membranes (alkaline phosphatase) were relatively stable over the observed culture period. Enzyme activities involved in metabolism of xenobiotics were determined, to define the ability for metabolism in cultured cells compared with bladder tissue in situ. Several constitutive phase I and II enzyme activities were found to be stable during the culture period, indicating that the cultured cells should be able to metabolise xenobiotics in a comparable manner to the urothelium in vivo. The cytotoxic effects of xenobiotics were investigated and IC50 values were determined by means of lactate dehydrogenase leakage and inhibition of neutral red uptake. The induction of sister chromatid exchanges was used as a parameter for the genotoxic effects of several xenobiotics. This cell culture system was found to be a very good screening system for the testing of substances that affect the bladder, especially aromatic amines.