Title: Hazard assessment of methylmercury toxicity to neuronal induction in embryogenesis using human embryonic stem cells
Citation: TOXICOLOGY vol. 257 no. 3 p. 117-126
Publication Year: 2009
JRC N°: JRC55842
ISSN: 0300-483X
URI: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/toxicol
DOI: 10.1016/j.tox.2008.12.018
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Pluripotent human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines can to some extent mimic in vitro the development of the embryo, providing the scientific rationale for the use of these cells to establish tests for toxicity to embryogenesis. Such humanised in vitro tests have potential to improve human hazard prediction by avoiding interspecies differences.We explored the potential of a hESC-based assay for detection of toxicity to neuronal induction in embryonic development. Neuronal precursor differentiation was performed according to a previous publication, whilewe established a newprotocol for maturation of the precursors into neuron-like cells. Appearance of neuronal derivatives was demonstrated by real-time PCR, showing up-regulation of several neuronal marker genes, and immunohistochemistry, demonstrating the appearance of neurofilament medium polypeptide, -tubulin III and microtubule-associated protein 2 positive cells. In order to assess whether the hESC model could detect chemically induced developmental toxicity, we exposed the differentiating cells to methylmercury (MeHg) causing structural developmental abnormalities in the brain. Two separate exposure intervals were used to determine the effects of MeHg on neuronal precursor formation and their further maturation, respectively. The formation of precursorswas sensitive to MeHg in non-cytotoxic concentrations, as the expression of several neuronal mRNA markers changed. In contrast, non-cytotoxic MeHg concentrations did not effect the mRNA marker expression in matured cells, indicating that neuronal precursor formation is more sensitive to MeHg than later stages of neuronal differentiation. Overall, our experiments demonstrate that the hESC assay can provide alerts for the adverse effects of MeHg on neuronal induction.
JRC Directorate:Institute for Health and Consumer Protection Historical Collection

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