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Biotechnol Prog. 2002 Mar-Apr;18(2):174-81.

Prediction of naphthalene bioaccumulation using an adipocyte cell line model.

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School of Chemical Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14850-5201, USA.


A long-term goal of this research is to develop an in vitro model to study the metabolism, distribution, and fate of chemicals or pharmaceuticals in animals and humans. An important component of such a system is an in vitro model to study bioaccumulation of specific chemicals in adipose tissue. Due to the difficulties in maintaining primary adipocytes in culture and conducting reproducible experiments, transformed adipocyte cell lines have been used as an alternative. In this paper, several rodent preadipocyte cell lines (3T3-L1, 3T3-F442A, and TA1 cells) that differentiate into adipocytes when exposed to the appropriate stimuli are tested as an investigative tool to study naphthalene accumulation. The in vitro model is tested by comparison of its performance to that of primary adipocytes. All the experimental evidence supports the hypothesis that naphthalene accumulation is primarily dependent on the level of intracellular lipid. Furthermore, the level of naphthalene bioaccumulation is linearly correlated with the amount of triglyceride content with the slope of 37.7 +/- 0.5 microg of naphthalene/(mg of triglyceride). Indomethacin/dexamethasone/insulin are shown to be more effective in promoting preadipocyte differentiation than methylisobutylxanthine/dexamethasone/insulin. Additionally, external factors, such as the presence of albumin and serum in the medium, affect the cellular naphthalene uptake by decreasing the amount of naphthalene transported into fat cells. Among the three cell lines tested, 3T3-L1 adipocytes accumulated the highest intracellular lipid and, hence, yielded the highest level of naphthalene accumulation. Its ability to accumulate naphthalene is comparable to that of primary adipocytes. The 3T3-L1 adipocyte model is appropriate for studying the bioaccumulation of xenobiotics that are aromatic hydrocarbons.

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