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See detailMajor changes of cell function and toxicant sensitivity in cultured cells undergoing mild, quasi-natural genetic drift
Gutbier, Simon; May, Patrick UL; Berthelot, Sylvie et al

in Archives of Toxicology (2018)

Genomic drift affects the functional properties of cell lines, and the reproducibility of data from in vitro studies. While chromosomal aberrations and mutations in single pivotal genes are well explored ... [more ▼]

Genomic drift affects the functional properties of cell lines, and the reproducibility of data from in vitro studies. While chromosomal aberrations and mutations in single pivotal genes are well explored, little is known about effects of minor, possibly pleiotropic, genome changes. We addressed this question for the human dopaminergic neuronal precursor cell line LUHMES by comparing two subpopulations (SP) maintained either at the American-Type-Culture-Collection (ATCC) or by the original provider (UKN). Drastic differences in susceptibility towards the specific dopaminergic toxicant 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+) were observed. Whole-genome sequencing was performed to identify underlying genetic differences. While both SP had normal chromosome structures, they displayed about 70 differences on the level of amino acid changing events. Some of these differences were confirmed biochemically, but none offered a direct explanation for the altered toxicant sensitivity pattern. As second approach, markers known to be relevant for the intended use of the cells were specifically tested. The “ATCC” cells rapidly down-regulated the dopamine-transporter and tyrosine-hydroxylase after differentiation, while “UKN” cells maintained functional levels. As the respective genes were not altered themselves, we conclude that polygenic complex upstream changes can have drastic effects on biochemical features and toxicological responses of relatively similar SP of cells. [less ▲]

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See detailA structure-activity relationship linking non-planar PCBs to functional deficits of neural crest cells: new roles for connexins
Nyffeler, Johanna; Chovancova, Petra; Dolde, Xenia et al

in Archives of Toxicology (2018), 92(3), 12251247

Migration of neural crest cells (NCC) is a fundamental developmental process, and test methods to identify interfering toxicants have been developed. By examining cell function endpoints, as in the ... [more ▼]

Migration of neural crest cells (NCC) is a fundamental developmental process, and test methods to identify interfering toxicants have been developed. By examining cell function endpoints, as in the ‘migration-inhibition of NCC (cMINC)’ assay, a large number of toxicity mechanisms and protein targets can be covered. However, the key events that lead to the adverse effects of a given chemical or group of related compounds are hard to elucidate. To address this issue, we explored here, whether the establishment of two overlapping structure–activity relationships (SAR)—linking chemical structure on the one hand to a phenotypic test outcome, and on the other hand to a mechanistic endpoint—was useful as strategy to identify relevant toxicity mechanisms. For this purpose, we chose polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) as a large group of related, but still toxicologically and physicochemically diverse structures. We obtained concentration-dependent data for 26 PCBs in the cMINC assay. Moreover, the test chemicals were evaluated by a new high-content imaging method for their effect on cellular re-distribution of connexin43 and for their capacity to inhibit gap junctions. Non-planar PCBs inhibited NCC migration. The potency (1–10 μM) correlated with the number of ortho-chlorine substituents; non-ortho-chloro (planar) PCBs were non-toxic. The toxicity to NCC partially correlated with gap junction inhibition, while it fully correlated (p < 0.0004) with connexin43 cellular re-distribution. Thus, our double-SAR strategy revealed a mechanistic step tightly linked to NCC toxicity of PCBs. Connexin43 patterns in NCC may be explored as a new endpoint relevant to developmental toxicity screening. [less ▲]

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See detailAdvanced Good Cell Culture Practice for human primary, stem cell-derived and organoid models as well as microphysiological systems
Pamies, David; Bal-Price, Anna; Chesné, Christophe et al

in ALTEX : Alternativen zu Tierexperimenten (2018)

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See detailFunctional and phenotypic differences of pure populations of stem cell-derived astrocytes and neuronal precursor cells
Kleiderman, Susanne; Sá, Joao; Teixeira, Ana et al

in Glia (2016), 64(5), 695-715

Availability of homogeneous astrocyte populations would facilitate research concerning cell plasticity (metabolic and transcriptional adaptations; innate immune responses) and cell cycle reactivation ... [more ▼]

Availability of homogeneous astrocyte populations would facilitate research concerning cell plasticity (metabolic and transcriptional adaptations; innate immune responses) and cell cycle reactivation. Current protocols to prepare astrocyte cultures differ in their final content of immature precursor cells, pre-activated cells or entirely different cell types. A new method taking care of all these issues would improve research on astrocyte functions. We found here that the exposure of a defined population of pluripotent stem cell-derived neural stem cells (NSC) to BMP4 results in pure, non-proliferating astrocyte cultures within 24-48 h. These murine astrocytes generated from embryonic stem cells (mAGES) expressed the positive markers GFAP, aquaporin 4 and GLT-1, supported neuronal function, and acquired innate immune functions such as the response to TNF and IL-1. The protocol was applicable to several normal or disease-prone pluripotent cell lines, and the corresponding mAGES all exited the cell cycle and lost most of their nestin expression, in contrast to astrocytes generated by serum-addition or obtained as primary cultures. Comparative gene expression analysis of mAGES and NSC allowed quantification of differences between the two cell types and a definition of an improved maker set to define astrocytes. Inclusion of several published data sets in this transcriptome comparison revealed the similarity of mAGES with cortical astrocytes in vivo. Metabolic analysis of homogeneous NSC and astrocyte populations revealed distinct neurochemical features: both cell types synthesized glutamine and citrate, but only mature astrocytes released these metabolites. Thus, the homogeneous cultures allowed an improved definition of NSC and astrocyte features. [less ▲]

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See detailConversion of non-proliferating astrocytes into neurogenic neural stem cells: control by FGF2 and IFN-gamma
Kleiderman, Susanne; Gutbier, Simon; Tufekci, Kemal U. et al

in Stem Cells (2016), 34(12), 28612874

Conversion of astrocytes to neurons, via de-differentiation to neural stem cells (NSC), may be a new approach to treat neurodegenerative diseases and brain injuries. The signaling factors affecting such a ... [more ▼]

Conversion of astrocytes to neurons, via de-differentiation to neural stem cells (NSC), may be a new approach to treat neurodegenerative diseases and brain injuries. The signaling factors affecting such a cell conversion are poorly understood, and they are hard to identify in complex disease models or conventional cell cultures. To address this question, we developed a serum-free, strictly controlled culture system of pure and homogeneous ‘astrocytes generated form murine embryonic stem cells (ESC)’. These stem cell derived astrocytes (mAGES), as well as standard primary astrocytes resumed proliferation upon addition of FGF. The signaling of FGF receptor tyrosine kinase converted GFAP-positive mAGES to nestin-positive NSC. ERK phosphorylation was necessary, but not sufficient, for cell cycle re-entry, as EGF triggered no de-differentiation. The NSC obtained by de-differentiation of mAGES were similar to those obtained directly by differentiation of ESC, as evidenced by standard phenotyping, and also by transcriptome mapping, metabolic profiling, and by differentiation to neurons or astrocytes. The de-differentiation was negatively affected by inflammatory mediators, and in particular, interferon gamma (IFNγ) strongly impaired the formation of NSC from mAGES by a pathway involving phosphorylation of STAT1, but not the generation of nitric oxide. Thus, two antagonistic signaling pathways were identified here that affect fate conversion of astrocytes independent of genetic manipulation. The complex interplay of the respective signaling molecules that promote/inhibit astrocyte de-differentiation may explain why astrocytes do not readily form neural stem cells in most diseases. Increased knowledge of such factors may provide therapeutic opportunities to favor such conversions. [less ▲]

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See detailLoss of DJ-1 impairs antioxidant response by altered glutamine and serine metabolism
Meiser, Johannes UL; Delcambre, Sylvie UL; Wegner, André UL et al

in Neurobiology of disease (2016), 89

The oncogene DJ-1 has been originally identified as a suppressor of PTEN. Further on, loss-of-function mutations have been described as a causative factor in Parkinson's disease (PD). DJ-1 has an ... [more ▼]

The oncogene DJ-1 has been originally identified as a suppressor of PTEN. Further on, loss-of-function mutations have been described as a causative factor in Parkinson's disease (PD). DJ-1 has an important function in cellular antioxidant responses, but its role in central metabolism of neurons is still elusive. We applied stable isotope assisted metabolic profiling to investigate the effect of a functional loss of DJ-1 and show that DJ-1 deficient neuronal cells exhibit decreased glutamine influx and reduced serine biosynthesis. By providing precursors for GSH synthesis, these two metabolic pathways are important contributors to cellular antioxidant response. Down-regulation of these pathways, as a result of loss of DJ-1 leads to an impaired antioxidant response. Furthermore, DJ-1 deficient mouse microglia showed a weak but constitutive pro-inflammatory activation. The combined effects of altered central metabolism and constitutive activation of glia cells raise the susceptibility of dopaminergic neurons towards degeneration in patients harboring mutated DJ-1. Our work reveals metabolic alterations leading to increased cellular instability and identifies potential new intervention points that can further be studied in the light of novel translational medicine approaches. [less ▲]

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See detailPreferential extracellular generation of the active parkinsonian toxin MPP+ by transporter-independent export of the intermediate MPDP+
Schildknecht, Stefan; Pape, Regina; Meiser, Johannes et al

in Antioxidants & redox signaling (2015)

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See detailState-of-the-art of 3D cultures (organs-on-a-chip) in safety testing and pathophysiology.
Alepee, Natalie; Bahinski, Anthony; Daneshian, Mardas et al

in ALTEX (2014), 31(4), 441-77

Integrated approaches using different in vitro methods in combination with bioinformatics can (i) increase the success rate and speed of drug development; (ii) improve the accuracy of toxicological risk ... [more ▼]

Integrated approaches using different in vitro methods in combination with bioinformatics can (i) increase the success rate and speed of drug development; (ii) improve the accuracy of toxicological risk assessment; and (iii) increase our understanding of disease. Three-dimensional (3D) cell culture models are important building blocks of this strategy which has emerged during the last years. The majority of these models are organotypic, i.e., they aim to reproduce major functions of an organ or organ system. This implies in many cases that more than one cell type forms the 3D structure, and often matrix elements play an important role. This review summarizes the state of the art concerning commonalities of the different models. For instance, the theory of mass transport/metabolite exchange in 3D systems and the special analytical requirements for test endpoints in organotypic cultures are discussed in detail. In the next part, 3D model systems for selected organs--liver, lung, skin, brain--are presented and characterized in dedicated chapters. Also, 3D approaches to the modeling of tumors are presented and discussed. All chapters give a historical background, illustrate the large variety of approaches, and highlight up- and downsides as well as specific requirements. Moreover, they refer to the application in disease modeling, drug discovery and safety assessment. Finally, consensus recommendations indicate a roadmap for the successful implementation of 3D models in routine screening. It is expected that the use of such models will accelerate progress by reducing error rates and wrong predictions from compound testing. [less ▲]

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See detailMetabolomics in toxicology and preclinical research.
Ramirez, Tzutzuy; Daneshian, Mardas; Kamp, Hennicke et al

in ALTEX (2013), 30(2), 209-25

Metabolomics, the comprehensive analysis of metabolites in a biological system, provides detailed information about the biochemical/physiological status of a biological system, and about the changes ... [more ▼]

Metabolomics, the comprehensive analysis of metabolites in a biological system, provides detailed information about the biochemical/physiological status of a biological system, and about the changes caused by chemicals. Metabolomics analysis is used in many fields, ranging from the analysis of the physiological status of genetically modified organisms in safety science to the evaluation of human health conditions. In toxicology, metabolomics is the -omics discipline that is most closely related to classical knowledge of disturbed biochemical pathways. It allows rapid identification of the potential targets of a hazardous compound. It can give information on target organs and often can help to improve our understanding regarding the mode-of-action of a given compound. Such insights aid the discovery of biomarkers that either indicate pathophysiological conditions or help the monitoring of the efficacy of drug therapies. The first toxicological applications of metabolomics were for mechanistic research, but different ways to use the technology in a regulatory context are being explored. Ideally, further progress in that direction will position the metabolomics approach to address the challenges of toxicology of the 21st century. To address these issues, scientists from academia, industry, and regulatory bodies came together in a workshop to discuss the current status of applied metabolomics and its potential in the safety assessment of compounds. We report here on the conclusions of three working groups addressing questions regarding 1) metabolomics for in vitro studies 2) the appropriate use of metabolomics in systems toxicology, and 3) use of metabolomics in a regulatory context. [less ▲]

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