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Gill Epithelial Cells as In Vitro Models in Aquatic Toxicology

Maria Sandbacka, Inga Christianson and Boris Isomaa

Gill epithelial cells are less sensitive than fish for most test chemicals, but a high correlation and a slope of the regression line close to 1 support the use of gill epithelial cells for prediction of acute toxicity in fish. Cells in suspension perform as well as cultured cells in the toxicity tests. However, the use of cells in suspension results in a quicker and more cost-effective assay for toxicity screening, but the cells should be used within about 5 hours of isolation. If a longer incubation time is required, cultured cells should be used. Cultured cells re-establish their polarity and contacts with other cells, and retain detectable amounts of enzymes for xenobiotic metabolism for at least 12 days in culture. Epithelial cell layers grown on filters seem to be less suitable for toxicity screening.