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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2005 Jun 1;205(2):177-87. Epub 2004 Nov 19.

Accumulation of methylmercury or polychlorinated biphenyls in in vitro models of rat neuronal tissue.

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Neurotoxicology Division, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory/ORD, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711, USA.


In vivo exposure levels for neurotoxicants are often reported in parts per million (ppm) concentration in tissue, whereas exposure levels in experiments utilizing in vitro models are most commonly reported in micromolar (muM) concentration in the exposure solution. The present experiments sought to determine whether or not in vitro solution concentration was an appropriate dose-metric for comparison to in vivo tissue levels for lipophilic compounds. To do so, the accumulation of the polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) mixture Aroclor 1254 (A1254) or methylmercury (MeHg) was examined in three commonly utilized in vitro neuronal tissue models: nerve growth factor differentiated pheochromocytoma (PC12) cells, primary cultures of rat neocortical cells, and adult rat hippocampal slices. Tissues were exposed to A1254 (0.65 ppm) or to MeHg (0.0033-0.33 ppm) in serum-free media for 1 or 24 h. Total PCB or mercury accumulation was measured by dual column gas chromatography with electron capture detection or by cold vapor atomic absorption, respectively. PC12 cells accumulated 66.7 and 103.8 ppm PCBs after 1 and 24 h exposure to A1254. Neocortical neurons also accumulated significant concentrations of PCBs, but less so than PC12 cells. After 1 h exposure to 0.65 ppm A1254, slices contained 3.46 and 0.81 ppm PCBs when exposed in a static and perfused system, respectively. After 1 h exposure to 0.0033, 0.033, and 0.33 ppm MeHg, PC12 cells contained 0.3, 2.2, and 17.7 ppm mercury, respectively; after 24 h, PC12 cells contained 0.4, 2.8, and 21.9 ppm. Hippocampal slices accumulated 1.7 and 4.8 ppm mercury after 1 and 3 h exposure to 0.33 ppm MeHg. For comparison, mercury accumulation in rat fetal and pup brain tissue after maternal exposure [0, 0.1, 1.0, or 2.0 mg/kg/day MeHg from gestational day (GD) 6-15] ranged from 0.05 to 7.89 ppm in 0.1 mg/kg dose animals on postnatal day 10 and 2.0 mg/kg dose animals on GD16, respectively. These results demonstrate that accumulation of PCBs and MeHg in vitro is tissue-, time-, and concentration-dependent and indicates that tissue levels rather than exposure concentrations are a more appropriate metric for comparison of in vitro to in vivo effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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