Publications by authors named "Verstraelen Sandra"

22 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

An in vitro air-liquid interface inhalation platform for petroleum substances and constituents.

ALTEX 2021 04 20. Epub 2021 Apr 20.

VITO NV (Flemish Institute for Technological Research), Unit HEALTH, Mol, Belgium.

The goal is to optimize and show the validity of an in vitro method for inhalation testing of petroleum substances and its constituents at the air-liquid interface (ALI). The approach is demonstrated in a pilot study with ethylbenzene (EB), a mono-constituent petroleum substance using a human alveolar epithelial cell line model. This included the development and validation of a generation facility to obtain EB vapors and the optimization of an exposure system for a negative control (clean air, CA), positive control (nitrogen dioxide), and EB vapors. The optimal settings for the VITROCELL® 24/48 system were defined. Cytotoxicity, cell viability, inflammation, and oxidative stress were assessed in A549 after exposure to EB vapors. A concentration-dependent significant decrease in mean cell viability was observed after exposure, which was confirmed by a cytotoxicity test. The oxidative stress marker superoxide dismutase 2 was significantly increased, but no concentration-response was observed. A concentration-dependent significant increase in pro-inflammatory markers C-C motif chemokine ligand 2, interleukin (IL)6, and IL8 was observed for EB-exposed A549 cells compared to CA. The data demonstrated consistency between in vivo air concentrations at which adverse respiratory effects were observed and ALI-concentrations affecting cell viability, provided that the actual measured in vitro delivery efficiency of the compound were included. It can be concluded that extrapolating in vitro air concentrations (adjusted for delivery efficiency and absorption characteristics and applied for testing cell viability) to simulate in vivo air concentrations may be a promising method to screen for acute inhalation toxicity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.14573/altex.2010211DOI Listing
April 2021

Alternative air-liquid interface method for inhalation toxicity testing of a petroleum-derived substance.

MethodsX 2020 8;7:101088. Epub 2020 Oct 8.

VITO NV (Flemish Institute for Technological Research), Unit HEALTH, Mol, Belgium.

-based new approach methodologies (NAMs) provide a pragmatic solution to animal testing of petroleum substances and their constituents. A previous study exposed an in vitro model (A549 cells) at the air-liquid interface (ALI) to assess inhalation toxicity of a single compound, ethylbenzene. Experimental conditions using VITROCELL 24/48 exposure system were optimized to achieve a deposition efficiency that resulted in dose-dependent biological changes. The feasibility of this set-up was evaluated for testing the complex substance gasoline, which, at only high concentrations, can induce mild respiratory irritation in animals and cough in humans.•Results showed that perpendicular ALI exposure flow systems (VITROCELL® 6/4 and 24/48) may not be appropriate for testing gasoline because it was not possible to achieve enough deposition onto the cells and in the culture medium to measure dose and to determine dose-dependent biological changes (more information can be found in 'Supplementary material and/or Additional information' section).•Structural features ( aromatic or saturated hydrocarbon structure) and high hydrophobicity, together with the low concentrations of individual components in gasoline, may have caused the low deposition.•To achieve a higher deposition on the cells, A549 cells were exposed to gasoline at the ALI by passive dosing.The results demonstrate that the presented methodology is a promising NAM for inhalation toxicity testing of (semi-)volatile complex substances with low aqueous solubility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mex.2020.101088DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7581970PMC
October 2020

Laser Light-Based Opacitometer 'Peira LLBO 180': A new and validated opacitometer for use in the Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability (BCOP) eye irritation test method.

MethodsX 2020 2;7:101085. Epub 2020 Oct 2.

VITO NV (Flemish Institute for Technological Research), Mol, Belgium.

The "Peira LLBO 180" is a Laser Light-Based Opacitometer that can be used as an alternative for the standard OP-KIT device in the Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability (BCOP) test Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Test Guideline (TG) 437 to identify chemicals inducing serious eye damage as defined by United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (UN GHS), chemicals to be classified as UN GHS Category 1 and chemicals not requiring classification for eye irritation or serious eye damage under the UN GHS classification system (No Category). • The Peira LLBO 180 offers the advantage of analysing the complete corneal surface and is therefore able to detect more efficiently opaque spots located around the periphery of the excised corneas. • This new device will allow not only a more accurate definition of the eye irritating potential of compounds, but also a more precise ranking of moderate to mild and non-irritating compounds. • The value of Peira LLBO 180 is confirmed during in-house and multi-laboratory evaluation studies and is now included in the updated OECD TG 437, dated 26th of June 2020. The results demonstrate that the presented methodology is an improved new approach methodology (NAM) for ocular irritation testing of liquids and solids.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mex.2020.101085DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7559534PMC
October 2020

CON4EI: CONsortium for in vitro Eye Irritation testing strategy.

Toxicol In Vitro 2018 06;49

Editor and Institute for Risk Assessment (IRAS), Division of Toxicology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tiv.2018.03.011DOI Listing
June 2018

Reprint of "CON4EI: Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability (BCOP) test for hazard identification and labelling of eye irritating chemicals".

Toxicol In Vitro 2018 Jun 27;49:53-64. Epub 2018 Mar 27.

VITO NV (Flemish Institute for Technological Research), Mol, Belgium.

Assessment of ocular irritation potential is an international regulatory requirement in the safety evaluation of industrial and consumer products. None in vitro ocular irritation assays are capable of fully categorizing chemicals as stand-alone. Therefore, the CEFIC-LRI-AIMT6-VITO CON4EI consortium assessed the reliability of eight in vitro test methods and computational models as well as established a tiered-testing strategy. One of the selected assays was Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability (BCOP). In this project, the same corneas were used for measurement of opacity using the OP-KIT, the Laser Light-Based Opacitometer (LLBO) and for histopathological analysis. The results show that the accuracy of the BCOP OP-KIT in identifying Cat 1 chemicals was 73.8% while the accuracy was 86.3% for No Cat chemicals. BCOP OP-KIT false negative results were often related to an in vivo classification driven by conjunctival effects only. For the BCOP LLBO, the accuracy in identifying Cat 1 chemicals was 74.4% versus 88.8% for No Cat chemicals. The BCOP LLBO seems very promising for the identification of No Cat liquids but less so for the identification of solids. Histopathology as an additional endpoint to the BCOP test method does not reduce the false negative rate substantially for in vivo Cat 1 chemicals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tiv.2018.03.005DOI Listing
June 2018

CON4EI: CONsortium for in vitro Eye Irritation testing strategy - EpiOcular™ time-to-toxicity (EpiOcular ET-50) protocols for hazard identification and labelling of eye irritating chemicals.

Toxicol In Vitro 2018 Jun 1;49:34-52. Epub 2017 Sep 1.

VITO NV (Flemish Institute for Technological Research), Mol, Belgium.

Assessment of acute eye irritation potential is part of the international regulatory requirements for testing of chemicals. The objective of the CON4EI (CONsortium for in vitro Eye Irritation testing strategy) project was to develop tiered testing strategies for eye irritation assessment for all drivers of classification. A set of 80 reference chemicals (38 liquids and 42 solids) was tested with eight different alternative methods. Here, the results obtained with reconstructed human cornea-like epithelium (RhCE) EpiOcular™ in the EpiOcular time-to-toxicity Tests (Neat and Dilution ET-50 protocols) are presented. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate whether test methods can discriminate chemicals not requiring classification for serious eye damage/eye irritancy (No Category) from chemicals requiring classification and labelling for Category 1 and Category 2. In addition, the predictive capacity in terms of in vivo drivers of classification was investigated. The chemicals were tested in two independent runs by MatTek In Vitro Life Science Laboratories. Results of this study demonstrate very high specificity of both test protocols. With the existing prediction models described in the SOPs, the specificity of the Neat and Dilution method was 87% and 100%, respectively. The Dilution method was able to correctly predicting 66% of GHS Cat 2 chemicals, however, prediction of GHS Cat 1 chemicals was only 47%-55% using the current protocols. In order to achieve optimal prediction for all three classes, a testing strategy was developed which combines the most predictive time-points of both protocols and for tests liquids and solids separately. Using this new testing strategy, the sensitivity for predicting GHS Cat 1 and GHS Cat 2 chemicals was 73% and 64%, respectively and the very high specificity of 97% was maintained. None of the Cat 1 chemicals was underpredicted as GHS No Category. Further combination of the EpiOcular time-to-toxicity protocols with other validated in vitro systems evaluated in this project, should enable significant reduction and even possible replacement of the animal tests for the final assessment of the irritation potential in all of the GHS classes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tiv.2017.08.019DOI Listing
June 2018

CON4EI: EpiOcular™ Eye Irritation Test (EpiOcular™ EIT) for hazard identification and labelling of eye irritating chemicals.

Toxicol In Vitro 2018 Jun 8;49:21-33. Epub 2017 Jul 8.

VITO NV (Flemish Institute for Technological Research), Mol, Belgium.

Assessment of the acute eye irritation potential is part of the international regulatory requirements for testing of chemicals. The objective of the CON4EI project was to develop tiered testing strategies for eye irritation assessment. A set of 80 reference chemicals (38 liquids and 42 solids) was tested with eight different methods. Here, the results obtained with the EpiOcular™ Eye Irritation Test (EIT), adopted as OECD TG 492, are shown. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate of the performance of the test method to discriminate between chemicals not requiring classification for serious eye damage/eye irritancy (No Category) and chemicals requiring classification and labelling. In addition, the predictive capacity in terms of in vivo drivers of classification (i.e. corneal opacity, conjunctival redness and persistence at day 21) was investigated. EpiOcular™ EIT achieved a sensitivity of 97%, a specificity of 87% and accuracy of 95% and also confirmed its excellent reproducibility (100%) from the original validation. The assay was applicable to all chemical categories tested in this project and its performance was not limited to the particular driver of the classification. In addition to the existing prediction model for dichotomous categorization, a new prediction model for Cat 1 is suggested.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tiv.2017.07.002DOI Listing
June 2018

CON4EI: Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability (BCOP) test for hazard identification and labelling of eye irritating chemicals.

Toxicol In Vitro 2017 Oct 30;44:122-133. Epub 2017 Jun 30.

VITO NV (Flemish Institute for Technological Research), Mol, Belgium.

Assessment of ocular irritation potential is an international regulatory requirement in the safety evaluation of industrial and consumer products. None in vitro ocular irritation assays are capable of fully categorizing chemicals as stand-alone. Therefore, the CEFIC-LRI-AIMT6-VITO CON4EI consortium assessed the reliability of eight in vitro test methods and computational models as well as established a tiered-testing strategy. One of the selected assays was Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability (BCOP). In this project, the same corneas were used for measurement of opacity using the OP-KIT, the Laser Light-Based Opacitometer (LLBO) and for histopathological analysis. The results show that the accuracy of the BCOP OP-KIT in identifying Cat 1 chemicals was 73.8% while the accuracy was 86.3% for No Cat chemicals. BCOP OP-KIT false negative results were often related to an in vivo classification driven by conjunctival effects only. For the BCOP LLBO, the accuracy in identifying Cat 1 chemicals was 74.4% versus 88.8% for No Cat chemicals. The BCOP LLBO seems very promising for the identification of No Cat liquids but less so for the identification of solids. Histopathology as an additional endpoint to the BCOP test method does not reduce the false negative rate substantially for in vivo Cat 1 chemicals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tiv.2017.06.028DOI Listing
October 2017

CON4EI: Development of serious eye damage and eye irritation testing strategies with respect to the requirements of the UN GHS/EU CLP hazard categories.

Toxicol In Vitro 2018 Jun 16;49:2-5. Epub 2017 Jun 16.

VITO NV (Flemish Institute for Technological Research), Mol, Belgium.

The main objective of the CON4EI (CONsortium for in vitro Eye Irritation testing strategy) project (2015-2016) was to develop tiered, non-animal testing strategies for serious eye damage and eye irritation assessment in relation to the most important drivers of classification. The serious eye damage and eye irritation potential of a set of 80 chemicals was identified based on existing in vivo Draize eye test data and testing was conducted using the following eight alternative test methods: BCOP (Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability)+histopathology, BCOP-LLBO (BCOP Laser Light-Based Opacitometer), ICE (Isolated Chicken Eye)+histopathology, STE (Short Term Exposure), EpiOcular™ EIT (EpiOcular Eye Irritation Test), EpiOcular™ ET-50 (EpiOcular™ Time-to-toxicity), SkinEthic™ HCE EIT (SkinEthic™ Human Corneal Epithelial Eye Irritation Test), and SMI (Slug Mucosal Irritation). Project management decided to not include the ICE data in this project since the execution showed relevant, and not predictable, deviations from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Test Guideline (TG) 438 and Guidance Document 160. At this stage, the outcome of these deviations has not been fully assessed. In addition to these alternative test methods, the computational models Toxtree and Case Ultra were taken into account. This project assessed the relevance of these test methods, their applicability domains and limitations in terms of 'drivers of classification', and their strengths and weaknesses. In this way, methods were identified that fit into a tiered-testing strategy for serious eye damage/eye irritation assessment to distinguish United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (UN GHS) Category 1 (Cat 1) chemicals from non-Cat 1 chemicals and address the gap namely distinguish between Category 2 (Cat 2) and Cat 1 chemicals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tiv.2017.06.011DOI Listing
June 2018

A Novel Exposure System Termed NAVETTA for In Vitro Laminar Flow Electrodeposition of Nanoaerosol and Evaluation of Immune Effects in Human Lung Reporter Cells.

Environ Sci Technol 2017 May 14;51(9):5259-5269. Epub 2017 Apr 14.

Paris Lodron University of Salzburg (PLUS) , Department of Molecular Biology, Hellbrunnerstrasse 34, 5020 Salzburg, Austria.

A new prototype air-liquid interface (ALI) exposure system, a flatbed aerosol exposure chamber termed NAVETTA, was developed to investigate deposition of engineered nanoparticles (NPs) on cultured human lung A549 cells directly from the gas phase. This device mimics human lung cell exposure to NPs due to a low horizontal gas flow combined with cells exposed at the ALI. Electrostatic field assistance is applied to improve NP deposition efficiency. As proof-of-principle, cell viability and immune responses after short-term exposure to nanocopper oxide (CuO)-aerosol were determined. We found that, due to the laminar aerosol flow and a specific orientation of inverted transwells, much higher deposition rates were obtained compared to the normal ALI setup. Cellular responses were monitored with postexposure incubation in submerged conditions, revealing CuO dissolution in a concentration-dependent manner. Cytotoxicity was the result of ionic and nonionic Cu fractions. Using the optimized inverted ALI/postincubation procedure, pro-inflammatory immune responses, in terms of interleukin (IL)-8 promoter and nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) activity, were observed within short time, i.e. One hour exposure to ALI-deposited CuO-NPs and 2.5 h postincubation. NAVETTA is a novel option for mimicking human lung cell exposure to NPs, complementing existing ALI systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.7b00493DOI Listing
May 2017

Phenotypic and biomarker evaluation of zebrafish larvae as an alternative model to predict mammalian hepatotoxicity.

J Appl Toxicol 2016 09 4;36(9):1194-206. Epub 2016 Mar 4.

VITO NV, Applied Bio & Molecular Systems, Boeretang 200, B-2400, Mol, Belgium.

Zebrafish phenotypic assays have shown promise to assess human hepatotoxicity, though scoring of liver morphology remains subjective and difficult to standardize. Liver toxicity in zebrafish larvae at 5 days was assessed using gene expression as the biomarker approach, complementary to phenotypic analysis and analytical data on compound uptake. This approach aimed to contribute to improved hepatotoxicity prediction, with the goal of identifying biomarker(s) as a step towards the development of transgenic models for prioritization. Morphological effects of hepatotoxic compounds (acetaminophen, amiodarone, coumarin, methapyrilene and myclobutanil) and saccharin as the negative control were assessed after exposure in zebrafish larvae. The hepatotoxic compounds induced the expected zebrafish liver degeneration or changes in size, whereas saccharin did not have any phenotypic adverse effect. Analytical methods based on liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry were optimized to measure stability of selected compounds in exposure medium and internal concentration in larvae. All compounds were stable, except amiodarone for which precipitation was observed. There was a wide variation between the levels of compound in the zebrafish larvae with a higher uptake of amiodarone, methapyrilene and myclobutanil. Detection of hepatocyte markers (CP, CYP3A65, GC and TF) was accomplished by in situ hybridization of larvae to coumarin and myclobutanil and confirmed by real-time reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Experiments showed decreased expression of all markers. Next, other liver-specific biomarkers (i.e. FABP10a and NR1H4) and apoptosis (i.e. CASP-3 A and TP53) or cytochrome P450-related (CYP2K19) and oxidoreductase activity-related (ZGC163022) genes, were screened. Links between basic mechanisms of liver injury and results of biomarker responses are described. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jat.3288DOI Listing
September 2016

Genotoxic and mutagenic potential of nitramines.

Environ Res 2014 Oct 18;134:39-45. Epub 2014 Jul 18.

Health Effects Laboratory, MILK, NILU - Norwegian Institute for Air Research, 2007 Kjeller, Norway.

Climate change is one of the major challenges in the world today. To reduce the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere, CO2 at major sources, such as power plants, can be captured. Use of aqueous amine solutions is one of the most promising methods for this purpose. However, concerns have been raised regarding its impacts on human health and the environment due to the degradation products, such as nitrosamines and nitramines that may be produced during the CO2 capture process. While several toxicity studies have been performed investigating nitrosamines, little is known about the toxic potential of nitramines. In this study a preliminary screening was performed of the genotoxic and mutagenic potential of nitramines most likely produced during amine based CO2 capture; dimethylnitramine (DMA-NO2), methylnitramine (MA-NO2), ethanolnitramine (MEA-NO2), 2-methyl-2-(nitramino)-1-propanol (AMP-NO2) and piperazine nitramine (PZ-NO2), by the Bacterial Reverse Mutation (Ames) Test, the Cytokinesis Block Micronucleus (CBMN) Assay and the in vitro Single-Cell Gel Electrophoresis (Comet) Assay. MA-NO2 and MEA-NO2 showed mutagenic potential in the Ames test and a weak genotoxic response in the CBMN Assay. AMP-NO2 and PZ-NO2 significantly increased the amount of DNA strand breaks; however, the level of breaks was below background. Most previous studies on nitramines have been performed on DMA-NO2, which in this study appeared to be the least potent nitramine. Our results indicate that it is important to investigate other nitramines that are more likely to be produced during CO2 capture, to ensure that the risk is realistically evaluated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2014.06.008DOI Listing
October 2014

Gene expression profiles reveal distinct immunological responses of cobalt and cerium dioxide nanoparticles in two in vitro lung epithelial cell models.

Toxicol Lett 2014 Aug 10;228(3):157-69. Epub 2014 May 10.

Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO NV), Environmental Risk and Health Unit, Mol, Belgium. Electronic address:

Fragmentary knowledge exists on cellular signaling responses underlying possible adverse health effects of CoO- and CeO2-nanoparticles (NP)s after inhalation. We aimed to perform a time kinetic study of gene expression profiles induced by these NPs in alveolar A549 and bronchial BEAS-2B epithelial cells, and investigated possible immune system modulation. The kinetics of the cell responses induced by the NPs were different between the lung epithelial models. Both CoO- and CeO2-NP exposure induced mainly downregulation of gene transcription. BEAS-2B cells were found to be more sensitive, as they showed a higher number of differentially expressed transcripts (DET) at a 10-fold lower NP-concentration than A549 cells. Hierarchical clustering of all DET indicated that the transcriptional responses were heterogeneous among the two cell types and two NPs. Between 1% and 14% DET encoding markers involved in immune processes were observed. The transcriptional impact of the metal oxide NPs appeared to be cell-dependent, both at the general and immune response level, whereas each lung epithelial cell model responded differently to the two NP types. Thus, the study provides gene expression markers and immune processes involved in CoO- and CeO2-NP-induced toxicity, and demonstrates the usefulness of comprehensive-omics studies to differentiate between NP responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.toxlet.2014.05.006DOI Listing
August 2014

Gene expressions changes in bronchial epithelial cells: markers for respiratory sensitizers and exploration of the NRF2 pathway.

Toxicol In Vitro 2014 Mar 6;28(2):209-17. Epub 2013 Nov 6.

Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Unit Environmental Risk and Health, Boeretang 200, Mol, Belgium; Department of Biomedical Sciences, Antwerp University, Universiteitsplein 1, Antwerp, Belgium; Department of Environmental Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, Winslowsparken 17, Odense, Denmark. Electronic address:

For the classification of respiratory sensitizing chemicals, no validated in vivo nor in vitro tests are currently available. In this study, we evaluated whether respiratory sensitizers trigger specific signals in human bronchial epithelial (BEAS-2B) cells at the level of the transcriptome. The cells were exposed during 6, 10, and 24h to 4 respiratory sensitizers and 6 non-respiratory sensitizers (3 skin sensitizers and 3 respiratory irritants) at a concentration inducing 20% cell viability loss after 24h. Changes in gene expression were evaluated using Agilent Whole Human Genome 4×44K oligonucleotide arrays. A limited number of 11 transcripts could be identified as potential biomarkers to identify respiratory sensitizers. Three of these transcripts are associated to immune system processes (HSPA5, UPP1, and SEPRINE1). In addition, the transcriptome was screened for transcripts that are differentially expressed compared to vehicle control for each chemical. The results show that the NRF2-mediated oxidative stress response is activated in the cell line after stimulation with all of the chemicals that were selected in our study, and that - at the level of gene expression - this pathway shows no potential to discriminate between any of the three compound groups: respiratory sensitizers, skin sensitizers, or electrophilic respiratory irritants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tiv.2013.10.017DOI Listing
March 2014

Improvement of the Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability (BCOP) assay as an in vitro alternative to the Draize rabbit eye irritation test.

Toxicol In Vitro 2013 Jun 14;27(4):1298-311. Epub 2013 Mar 14.

Flemish Institute for Technological Research, VITO NV, Environmental Risk and Health Unit, Mol, Belgium.

Measurement of ocular irritancy is a necessary step in the safety evaluation of both industrial and consumer products. Assessment of the acute eye irritation potential is therefore part of the international regulatory requirements for testing of chemicals. The Bovine Corneal Opacity and Permeability (BCOP) assay is generally accepted as a valid in vitro alternative method to the Draize eye irritation test to detect corrosive and severe eye irritants (category 1), but has not proven sensitive enough to discriminate accurately moderate (category 2A/2B) to mild and non-irritating compounds. In the currently accepted BCOP assay, opacity is determined by the amount of light transmission through the cornea, and permeability is determined by the amount of sodium fluorescein dye that passes through all corneal cell layers. Both measurements are used to assign an In Vitro Irritancy Score (IVIS) for prediction of the in vivo ocular irritation potential of a test substance. Nowadays, opacity is measured by an OP-KIT opacitometer providing a center-weighted reading of light transmission by measuring changes in voltage when the transmission of white light passes through the cornea alters. As a consequence, this may underestimate opacity that develops as spots or heterogeneous opaque areas on the periphery of an isolated cornea. A prototype of a laser light-based opacitometer (PLLBO) allowing better measurement of opacities was developed by Van Goethem et al. (2010). This new device showed improved sensitivity to detect subtle changes in corneal transparency. Furthermore, the new opacitometer allowed the analysis of the complete corneal surface and was able to detect more efficiently opaque spots located along the sides of the excised corneas. A further improved prototype of the PLLBO was constructed in combination with a camera and a speckle noise reducer. Treatment conditions of the corneas in the cornea holders were optimized in order to mimic more the real in vivo situation. A set of test compounds with irritancy potencies especially in the mild and moderate range was tested. The improved LLBO showed some promising features which potentially could improve the usefulness of the BCOP test. Adaptation of cornea holders showed to be of limited value and only restricted to concentrations up to 15% which mimics more test conditions in industry. This 3-year research project was sponsored by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (Greece).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tiv.2013.02.018DOI Listing
June 2013

Chemical sensitization and allergotoxicology.

Exp Suppl 2012;101:289-314

Environmental Risk and Health Unit-Toxicology, Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO N.V.), Centre for Advanced R&D on Alternative Methods (CARDAM), Boeretang 200, 2400, Mol, Belgium,

Chemical sensitization remains an important environmental and occupational health issue. A wide range of substances have been shown to possess the ability to induce skin sensitization or respiratory sensitization. As a consequence, there is a need to have appropriate methods to identify sensitizing agents. Although a considerable investment has been made in exploring opportunities to develop methods for hazard identification and characterization, there are, as yet, no validated nonanimal methods available. A state of the art of the different in vitro approaches to identify contact and respiratory capacity of chemicals is covered in this chapter.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-7643-8340-4_10DOI Listing
March 2015

Respiratory sensitization: advances in assessing the risk of respiratory inflammation and irritation.

Toxicol In Vitro 2011 Oct 5;25(7):1251-8. Epub 2011 May 5.

National Institute of Public Health & Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.

Respiratory sensitization provides a case study for a new approach to chemical safety evaluation, as the prevalence of respiratory sensitization has increased considerably over the last decades, but animal and/or human experimental/predictive models are not currently available. Therefore, the goal of a working group was to design a road map to develop an ASAT approach for respiratory sensitisers. This approach should aim at (i) creating a database on respiratory functional biology and toxicology, (ii) applying data analyses to understand the multi-dimensional sensitization response, and how this predisposes to respiratory inflammation and irritation, and (iii) building a systems model out of these analyses, adding pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic modeling to predict respiratory responses to low levels of sensitisers. To this end, the best way forward would be to follow an integrated testing approach. Experimental research should be targeted to (i) QSAR-type approaches to relate potential as a respiratory sensitizer to its chemical structure, (ii) in vitro models and (iii) in vitro-in vivo extrapolation/validation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tiv.2011.04.027DOI Listing
October 2011

Gene profiles of THP-1 macrophages after in vitro exposure to respiratory (non-)sensitizing chemicals: identification of discriminating genetic markers and pathway analysis.

Toxicol In Vitro 2009 Sep 13;23(6):1151-62. Epub 2009 Jun 13.

Unit Environmental Risk and Health, Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO NV), Boeretang 200, 2400 Mol, Belgium.

It is recognized that respiratory sensitization is a hazard of high concern. Despite international regulatory requirements there is no established protocol for the identification of chemical respiratory sensitizers. New tests should be based on mechanistic understanding and should be preferentially restricted to in vitro assays. The major goal of this study was to investigate the genetic response of human THP-1 macrophages after contact with respiratory (non-)sensitizers, and to identify genes that are able to discriminate between both groups. THP-1 macrophages were exposed during different time points to 3 respiratory sensitizers, 2 irritants, and 1 skin sensitizer. Gene expression changes were evaluated using Agilent Whole Human Genome arrays. Fisher Linear Discriminant Analysis was used to obtain a ranking of genes that reflects their potential to discriminate between respiratory (non-)sensitizing chemicals. Among the 20 most discriminating genes which were categorized into molecular and biological Gene Ontology (GO) terms, EIF4E, PDGFRB, SEMA7A, and ZFP36L2 could be associated with respiratory sensitization. When categorizing the top-1000 genes into biological GO terms, 24 genes were associated with immune function. Using a pathway analysis tool, platelet-derived growth factor signaling was observed to be activated in THP-1 macrophages in the context of respiratory sensitization.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tiv.2009.06.007DOI Listing
September 2009

THP-1 monocytes but not macrophages as a potential alternative for CD34+ dendritic cells to identify chemical skin sensitizers.

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2009 Apr 11;236(2):221-30. Epub 2009 Feb 11.

Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO N.V.), Centre of Expertise in Environmental Toxicology, Mol, Belgium.

Early detection of the sensitizing potential of chemicals is an emerging issue for chemical, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. In our institute, an in vitro classification model for prediction of chemical-induced skin sensitization based on gene expression signatures in human CD34+ progenitor-derived dendritic cells (DC) has been developed. This primary cell model is able to closely mimic the induction phase of sensitization by Langerhans cells in the skin, but it has drawbacks, such as the availability of cord blood. The aim of this study was to investigate whether human in vitro cultured THP-1 monocytes or macrophages display a similar expression profile for 13 predictive gene markers previously identified in DC and whether they also possess a discriminating capacity towards skin sensitizers and non-sensitizers based on these marker genes. To this end, the cell models were exposed to 5 skin sensitizers (ammonium hexachloroplatinate IV, 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene, eugenol, para-phenylenediamine, and tetramethylthiuram disulfide) and 5 non-sensitizers (l-glutamic acid, methyl salicylate, sodium dodecyl sulfate, tributyltin chloride, and zinc sulfate) for 6, 10, and 24 h, and mRNA expression of the 13 genes was analyzed using real-time RT-PCR. The transcriptional response of 7 out of 13 genes in THP-1 monocytes was significantly correlated with DC, whereas only 2 out of 13 genes in THP-1 macrophages. After a cross-validation of a discriminant analysis of the gene expression profiles in the THP-1 monocytes, this cell model demonstrated to also have a capacity to distinguish skin sensitizers from non-sensitizers. However, the DC model was superior to the monocyte model for discrimination of (non-)sensitizing chemicals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.taap.2009.01.026DOI Listing
April 2009

Gene profiles of a human alveolar epithelial cell line after in vitro exposure to respiratory (non-)sensitizing chemicals: identification of discriminating genetic markers and pathway analysis.

Toxicol Lett 2009 Feb 6;185(1):16-22. Epub 2008 Dec 6.

Unit Environmental Risk and Health, Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO N.V.), BE-2400 Mol, Belgium.

There are currently no accepted biological prediction models for assessing the potential of a substance to cause respiratory sensitization. New tests should be based on mechanistic understanding and should be preferentially restricted to in vitro assays. The major goal of this study was to investigate the alterations in gene expression of human alveolar epithelial (A549) cells after exposure to respiratory sensitizing and non-respiratory sensitizing chemicals, and to identify genes that are able to discriminate between both groups of chemicals. A549 cells were exposed during 6, 10, and 24 h to the respiratory sensitizers ammonium hexachloroplatinate IV, hexamethylene diisocyanate, and trimellitic anhydride, the irritants acrolein and methyl salicylate, and the skin sensitizer 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene. Overall changes in gene expression were evaluated using Agilent Whole Human Genome 4x44K oligonucleotide arrays. A Fisher linear discriminant analysis was used to obtain a ranking of genes that reflects their potential to discriminate between respiratory sensitizing and respiratory non-sensitizing chemicals. Among the 20 most discriminating genes, which were categorized into molecular and biological gene ontology (GO) terms, CTLA4 could be associated with asthma and/or respiratory sensitization. When categorizing the top-1000 genes into biological GO terms, 22 genes were associated with immune function. Using a pathway analysis tool to identify possible underlying mechanisms of respiratory sensitization, no known canonical signaling pathway was observed to be activated in the A549 cell line.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.toxlet.2008.11.017DOI Listing
February 2009

Gene profiles of a human bronchial epithelial cell line after in vitro exposure to respiratory (non-)sensitizing chemicals: identification of discriminating genetic markers and pathway analysis.

Toxicology 2009 Jan 6;255(3):151-9. Epub 2008 Nov 6.

Unit Environmental Risk and Health, Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO N.V.), Boeretang 200, BE-2400 Mol, Belgium.

Respiratory sensitization is a concern for occupational and environmental health in consumer product development. Despite international regulatory requirements there is no established protocol for the identification of chemical respiratory sensitizers. New tests should be based on mechanistic understanding and should be preferentially restricted to in vitro assays. The major goal of this study was to investigate the alterations in gene expression of human bronchial epithelial (BEAS-2B) cells after exposure to respiratory sensitizers and respiratory non-sensitizing chemicals, and to identify genes that are able to discriminate between both groups of chemicals. BEAS-2B cells were exposed during 6, 10, and 24h to the respiratory sensitizers ammonium hexachloroplatinate IV, hexamethylene diisocyanate, and trimellitic anhydride, the irritants acrolein and methyl salicylate, and the skin sensitizer 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene. Overall changes in gene expression were evaluated using Agilent Whole Human Genome 4x 44K oligonucleotide arrays. Fisher Linear Discriminant Analysis was used to obtain a ranking of genes that reflects their potential to discriminate between respiratory sensitizing and respiratory non-sensitizing chemicals. The 10 most discriminative genes were BC042064, A_24_P229834, DOCK11, THC2544911, DLGAP4, NINJ1, PFKM, FLJ10986, IL28RA, and CASP9. Based on the differentially expressed genes, pathway analysis was used to identify possible underlying mechanisms of respiratory sensitization. We demonstrated that in bronchial epithelial cells the canonical PTEN signaling pathway is probably the most specific pathway in the context of respiratory sensitization. Results are indicative that the BEAS-2B cell line can be used as an alternative cell model to screen chemical compounds for their respiratory sensitizing potential.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tox.2008.10.014DOI Listing
January 2009

The allergic cascade: review of the most important molecules in the asthmatic lung.

Immunol Lett 2007 Oct 15;113(1):6-18. Epub 2007 Aug 15.

Centre of Expertise in Environmental Toxicology, Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Boeretang 200, B-2400 Mol, Belgium.

Asthma is the most common chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways among children. It is a complex clinical disease characterized by airway obstruction, airway inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness to a variety of stimuli. The development of allergic asthma exists of three phases, namely the induction phase, the early-phase asthmatic reaction (EAR) and the late-phase asthmatic reaction (LAR). Each phase is characterized by the production and interplay of various cell-derived mediators. In the induction phase, T helper cytokines are important in the development of asthma. Most important mediators in the EAR are preformed mediators, newly synthesized lipid mediators and cytokines that are produced by mast cells. During the LAR, inflammatory molecules are produced by various cell types, such as eosinophils, neutrophils, T cells, macrophages, dendritic cells, and structural cells. Chronical inflammation leads to structural changes of the airway architecture. In this review, the most important mediators involved in the induction phase, the early-phase and late-phase asthmatic reaction are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.imlet.2007.07.010DOI Listing
October 2007