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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2010 Jun 1;245(2):153-9. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2010.02.014. Epub 2010 Mar 4.

A high-throughput method for assessing chemical toxicity using a Caenorhabditis elegans reproduction assay.

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Biomolecular Screening Branch, National Toxicology Program, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.


The National Research Council has outlined the need for non-mammalian toxicological models to test the potential health effects of a large number of chemicals while also reducing the use of traditional animal models. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is an attractive alternative model because of its well-characterized and evolutionarily conserved biology, low cost, and ability to be used in high-throughput screening. A high-throughput method is described for quantifying the reproductive capacity of C. elegans exposed to chemicals for 48 h from the last larval stage (L4) to adulthood using a COPAS Biosort. Initially, the effects of exposure conditions that could influence reproduction were defined. Concentrations of DMSO vehicle <or=1% did not affect reproduction. Previous studies indicated that C. elegans may be influenced by exposure to low pH conditions. At pHs greater than 4.5, C. elegans reproduction was not affected; however below this pH there was a significant decrease in the number of offspring. Cadmium chloride was chosen as a model toxicant to verify that automated measurements were comparable to those of traditional observational studies. EC(50) values for cadmium for automated measurements (176-192 microM) were comparable to those previously reported for a 72-h exposure using manual counting (151 microM). The toxicity of seven test toxicants on C. elegans reproduction was highly correlative with rodent lethality suggesting that this assay may be useful in predicting the potential toxicity of chemicals in other organisms.

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