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The Bioavailability of Substances Administered to Chick Embryos: The Maximum Effective Route of Administration


Drahomír Veselý, Doubravka Veselá and Richard Jelínek

Toxicokinetic studies are of key importance in both the design and the interpretation of developmental toxicity studies. The aim of this study was to determine concentrations of test substances within the chick embryo following the administration schedule recommended in the chick embryotoxicity screening test (CHEST). The concentration–time relationships were investigated by using four labelled substances with various physicochemical and embryotoxic properties ([14C] sodium acetate, [14C] palmitic acid, [3H] cortisol and [3H] cytosine arabinoside). These labelled chemicals were mixed with cold substances and singly administered at two dose levels to chick embryos on days 2, 3 and 4 of incubation. Extrachorial and subgerminal routes were used on day 2, and extrachorial and intra-amniotic applications were chosen on days 3 and 4. The concentration of labelled chemical present within the embryo was assessed at predetermined intervals by scintillation fluorimetry (from 6 minutes to 96 hours after administration), and used for estimating the concentration curves. Regardless of the substance, dose and application route, the concentration curves exhibited a characteristic pattern, reaching their peaks within the first 6 hours, and dropping down to near zero 48–96 hours after administration. The decrease followed the first order law, demonstrating that, within the CHEST system, the avian embryo does not act as a closed system. With regard to the total amount of substance entering the embryo, extrachorial administration appeared to be superior to subgerminal administration on day 2. Intra-amniotic administration was superior to extrachorial administration on days 3 and 4. These differences were most pronounced after administration of lipid-soluble palmitic acid. The concentrations within embryonic tissues were directly dosedependent. After consideration of all these findings, we concluded that the CHEST system probably has closer similarity to the toxicokinetics of exposure of mammalian embryos (i.e. reaching a peak and then a gradual decline over time) than any other in vitro test of developmental toxicity, where the chemical is simply added to culture media. Several practical recommendations for improving the CHEST system were derived.