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Evaluation Of An In Vitro Assay To Screen For The Immunotoxic Potential Of Chemicals To Fish

Kristina Rehberger, Beate I. Escher, Andreas Scheidegger, Inge Werner, Helmut Segner

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AbstractA wide variety of environmental contaminants has been shown to disrupt immune functions of fish and may compromise their defense capability against pathogens. Immunotoxic effects, however, are rarely considered in ecotoxicological testing strategies. The aim of this study was to systematically evaluate the suitability of an in vitro immuno-assay using selected fish immune parameters to screen for chemicals with known immunotoxic potential and to differentiate them from non-immunotoxicants. Non-stimulated and lipopolysaccharide-stimulated head kidney leukocytes of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) were exposed for 3 h or 19 h to chemicals with different modes of action. As immune parameters, phagocytosis activity, oxidative burst activity and cytokine transcription (IL-1β, TNFα, IL-10) were examined, accompanied by in silico modelling. The immunotoxicants dexamethasone, benzo(a)pyrene, ethinylestradiol and bisphenol A significantly altered the immune parameters at non-cytotoxic concentrations whereas diclofenac had only weak effects. However, the two baseline chemicals with no known immunotoxic potential, butanol and ethylene glycol, caused significant effects, too. From our results it appears that the in vitro fish leukocyte assay as performed in the present study has only a limited capacity for discriminating between immunotoxicants and non-immunotoxicants.