Title: Assessment of developmental neurotoxicity induced by chemical mixtures using an adverse outcome pathway concept
Citation: ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH vol. 19 no. 23 p. 1-26
Publisher: BMC
Publication Year: 2020
JRC N°: JRC117048
ISSN: 1476-069X (online)
URI: https://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12940-020-00578-x
DOI: 10.1186/s12940-020-00578-x
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Background: In light of the vulnerability of the developing brain, mixture risk assessment (MRA) for the evaluation of developmental neurotoxicity (DNT) should be implemented, since infants and children are co-exposed to more than one chemical at a time. One possible approach to tackle MRA could be to cluster DNT chemicals in a mixture on the basis of their mode of action (MoA) into 'similar' and 'dissimilar', but still contributing to the same adverse outcome, and anchor DNT assays to common key events (CKEs) identified in DNT-specific adverse outcome pathways (AOPs). Moreover, the use of human in vitro models, such as induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived neuronal and glial cultures would enable mechanistic understanding of chemically-induced adverse effects, avoiding species extrapolation. Methods: HiPSC-derived neural progenitors differentiated into mixed cultures of neurons and astrocytes were used to assess the effects of acute (3 days) and repeated dose (14 days) treatments with single chemicals and in mixtures belonging to different classes (i.e., lead(II) chloride and methylmercury chloride (heavy metals), chlorpyrifos (pesticide), bisphenol A (organic compound and endocrine disrupter), valproic acid (drug), and PCB138 (persistent organic pollutant and endocrine disrupter), which are associated with cognitive deficits, including learning and memory impairment in children. Selected chemicals were grouped based on their mode of action (MoA) into 'similar' and 'dissimilar' MoA compounds and their effects on synaptogenesis, neurite outgrowth, and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) protein levels, identified as CKEs in currently available AOPs relevant to DNT, were evaluated by immunocytochemistry and high content imaging analysis. Results: Chemicals working through similar MoA (i.e., alterations of BDNF levels), at concentrations causing no or very low cytotoxicity (IC5), induce DNT effects in mixtures, as shown by increased number of neurons, impairment of neurite outgrowth and synaptogenesis (the most sensitive endpoint as confirmed by mathematical modelling) and increase of BDNF levels, to a certain extent reproducing autism-like cellular changes observed in the brain of autistic children. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the use of human iPSC-derived mixed neuronal/glial cultures applied to a battery of assays anchored to key events of an AOP network represents a valuable approach to identify mixtures of chemicals with potential to cause learning and memory impairment in children.
JRC Directorate:Health, Consumers and Reference Materials

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