A novel, integrated in vitro carcinogenicity test to identify genotoxic and non-genotoxic carcinogens using human lymphoblastoid cells
Human exposure to carcinogens occurs via a plethora of environmental sources, with 70–90% of cancers caused by extrinsic factors. Aberrant phenotypes induced by such carcinogenic agents may provide universal biomarkers for cancer causation. Both current in vitro genotoxicity tests and the animal-testing paradigm in human cancer risk assessment fail to accurately represent and predict whether a chemical causes human carcinogenesis. The study aimed to establish whether the integrated analysis of multiple cellular endpoints related to the Hallmarks of Cancer could advance in vitro carcinogenicity assessment. Human lymphoblastoid cells (TK6, MCL-5) were treated for either 4 or 23 h with 8 known in vivo carcinogens, with doses up to 50% Relative Population Doubling (maximum 66.6 mM). The adverse effects of carcinogens on wide-ranging aspects of cellular health were quantified using several approaches; these included chromosome damage, cell signalling, cell morphology, cell-cycle dynamics and bioenergetic perturbations. Cell morphology and gene expression alterations proved particularly sensitive for environmental carcinogen identification. Composite scores for the carcinogens’ adverse effects revealed that this approach could identify both DNA-reactive and non-DNA reactive carcinogens in vitro. The richer datasets generated proved that the holistic evaluation of integrated phenotypic alterations is valuable for effective in vitro risk assessment, while also supporting animal test replacement. Crucially, the study offers valuable insights into the mechanisms of human carcinogenesis resulting from exposure to chemicals that humans are likely to encounter in their environment. Such an understanding of cancer induction via environmental agents is essential for cancer prevention.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00204-017-2102-y
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