Comparison of the sensitivities of common in vitro and in vivo assays of estrogenic activity: Application of chemical toxicity distributions

Authors

  • Laura L. Dobbins,

    1. Department of Environmental Science, Institute of Biomedical Studies, Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research, and Department of Biology, Baylor University, One Bear Place No. 97266, Waco, Texas 76798, USA
    2. Department of Biology, Baylor University, One Bear Place No. 97266, Waco, Texas 76798, USA
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  • Richard A. Brain,

    1. Department of Environmental Science, Institute of Biomedical Studies, Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research, and Department of Biology, Baylor University, One Bear Place No. 97266, Waco, Texas 76798, USA
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  • Bryan W. Brooks

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Environmental Science, Institute of Biomedical Studies, Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research, and Department of Biology, Baylor University, One Bear Place No. 97266, Waco, Texas 76798, USA
    • Department of Environmental Science, Institute of Biomedical Studies, Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research, and Department of Biology, Baylor University, One Bear Place No. 97266, Waco, Texas 76798, USA
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Abstract

A number of contaminants in municipal effluent discharges are estrogen agonists to fish. Whereas several in vitro and in vivo techniques have been developed to assess the estrogenic activity of these compounds or ambient environmental samples, previous comparisons of the relative sensitivities of these approaches remain inconclusive. We employed a probabilistic hazard assessment approach using chemical toxicity distributions (CTDs) to perform a novel evaluation of relative sensitivities of six common in vitro and in vivo assays. We predicted that there was an 8.3% (human breast ademocarcinoma cell line, MCF-7, assay), 6.3% (yeast estrogen screen assay), or 1.9% (fish hepatocyte vitellogenin, VTG, assay) probability of detecting a compound in aquatic systems that will elicit an estrogenic response at concentrations at or below 0.1 μg/L, suggesting that the MCF-7 assay was the most sensitive in vitro assay evaluated in this study. The probabilities of eliciting the estrogenic response of VTG induction at a concentration less than 0.1 μg/L in rainbow trout, fathead minnow, and Japanese medaka were determined at 29.9, 26.2, and 18.8%, respectively. Thus, rainbow trout VTG induction was the most sensitive in vivo assay assessed. Subsequently, CTDs may provide a useful technique for hazard assessment of chemical classes for which exposure data are limited and for chemicals with common toxicological mechanisms and modes of action.

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