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Methods of in vitro toxicology.

Eisenbrand, G., Pool-Zobel, B., Baker, V., Balls, M., Blaauboer, B.J., Boobis, A., Carere, A., Kevekordes, S., Lhuguenot, J-C., Pieters, R. and Kleiner, J.

Food and Chemical Toxicology, 40(2-3), 193-236 (2002).

In vitro methods are common and widely used for screening and ranking chemicals, and have also been taken into account sporadically for risk assessment purposes in the case of food additives. However, the range of food-associated compounds amenable to in vitro toxicology is considered much broader, comprising not only natural ingredients, including those from food preparation, but also compounds formed endogenously after exposure, permissible/authorised chemicals including additives, residues, supplements, chemicals from processing and packaging and contaminants. A major promise of in vitro systems is to obtain mechanism-derived information that is considered pivotal for adequate risk assessment. This paper critically reviews the entire process of risk assessment by in vitro toxicology, encompassing ongoing and future developments, with major emphasis on cytotoxicity, cellular responses, toxicokinetics, modelling, metabolism, cancer-related endpoints, developmental toxicity, prediction of allergenicity, and finally, development and application of biomarkers. It describes in depth the use of in vitro methods in strategies for characterising and predicting hazards to the human. Major weaknesses and strengths of these assay systems are addressed, together with some key issues concerning major research priorities to improve hazard identification and characterisation of food-associated chemicals.