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J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2013;76(13):827-35. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2013.821396.

Effects of COREXIT dispersants on cytotoxicity parameters in a cultured human bronchial airway cells, BEAS-2B.

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a Department of Global Environmental Health Science, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University , New Orleans , Louisiana , USA.


The objective of this study was to assess the cytotoxicity of COREXIT dispersants EC9500A, EC9527A, and EC9580A on human airway BEAS-2B epithelial cells. Cells were exposed to dispersants for 2 or 24 h at concentrations ranging from 0 to 300 ppm. COREXIT EC9527 at 100 ppm produced 50% viability loss as measured by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) at 24 h. COREXIT 9527 at 200 ppm produced 50% cell death at 2 h and 100% at 24 h. At 300 ppm COREXIT 9527 induced 100% cell death at 2 or 24 h. In the case of COREXIT 9500A 50% cell viability was noted with 200 ppm at 2 or 24 h, with a significant decrease in cell survival to 2% at 300 ppm. In contrast, no marked change in cell viability was observed in cells treated at any COREXIT 9580A concentration examined. Western blot analysis showed an increase in expression of LC3B, a marker of autophagy, in cells treated for 2 h with 300 ppm COREXIT EC9527A as well as 100 or 300 ppm Corexit EC9500A. No marked effect on LC3B expression was observed for any COREXIT 9580A concentration. Apoptosis markers as measured by cleaved caspase-3 and cleaved poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) were detectable only in cells incubated with 300 ppm COREXIT EC9527A. Although all three dispersants induced enhanced generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) after 2-h treatment at 300 ppm, Western blot analysis revealed that 2-h incubation was not sufficient to induce a significant change in the protein expression of superoxide dismutases SOD1, SOD2, and SOD3. Data thus indicate exposure to certain dispersants may be harmful to human airway epithelial cells in a concentration-dependent manner.

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