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Environ Int. 2003 Sep;29(6):861-77.

Brominated dioxin-like compounds: in vitro assessment in comparison to classical dioxin-like compounds and other polyaromatic compounds.

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  • 1Life Science Research Laboratories, Kaneka Corporation, 1-8 Miyamae-Machi, Hyogo Takasago 676-8688, Japan.


Recently, several countries agreed to adopt the Stockholm convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs). One future obligation will be to add other POPs as new evidence becomes available. In vitro cell-based bioassays offer a rapid, sensitive, and relatively inexpensive solution to screen possible POP candidates. In the present study, we investigated the aryl hydrocarbon (Ah)-receptor activity of several dioxin-like POPs by using the Micro-EROD (Ethoxy-Resorufin-O-Deethylase) and DR-CALUX (Dioxin-Responsive-Chemical Activated Luciferase gene eXpression) bioassays, which are two state-of-the-art methods. The Micro-EROD system used in our study utilizes a wild-type rat liver cell line (rat liver H4IIEC3/T cells), while the DR-CALUX bioassay consists of a genetically modified rat hepatoma H4IIE cell line that incorporates the firefly luciferase gene coupled to dioxin-responsive elements (DREs) as a reporter gene. In the case of the DR-CALUX bioassay, we used an exposure time of 24 h, whereas we used a 72-h exposure time in the Micro-EROD bioassay. The aim of this study was to compare conventional dioxin-like POPs (such as polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and -furans, PCDD/Fs and coplanar polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs) with several other classes of possible candidates to be added to the current toxicity equivalent factor (TEF) model in the future. Therefore, this study compares in vitro CYP1A1 (Micro-EROD bioassay) and firefly luciferase induction (DR-CALUX bioassay) in several mixed polyhalogenated dibenzodioxins and -furans (PXDD/Fs; X=Br, Cl, or F), alkyl-substituted polyhalogenated dibenzodioxins and -furans (PMCDD/Fs; M=methyl), polyhalogenated biphenyls (PXBs, X=Br, Cl ), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), pentabromophenols (PBPs), and tetrabromobisphenol-A (TBBP-A). We also evaluate congener-specific relative potencies (REPs) and efficacies (% of TCDD(max)) and discuss the dose-response curves of these compounds, as well as the dioxin-like potency of several other Ah-receptor agonists, such as those of the polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs). The highest REP values were found for several PXDD/F congeners, followed by some coplanar PXBs, trichlorinated PCDD/Fs, PAHs, PBDE-126, 1-6-HxCN, and some brominated flame retardants (TBBP-A). These in vitro investigations indicate that further research is necessary to evaluate more Ah-receptor agonists for dioxin-like potency.

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