Development of quantitative comparative cytotoxicity and genotoxicity assays for environmental hazardous chemicals

M. J. Plewa, Y. Kargalioglu, D. Vankerk, R. A. Minear, E. D. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Mammalian cell asays can provide toxicological information that may be more relevant to human risk asessment than commonly used microbial tests. Rapid, semi-automated, quantitative mammalian cell cytotoxicity and genotoxicity assays were developed to analyze drinking water disinfection by-products (DBPs). These assays employ 96-well microplates; selected DBPs were analyzed with cultured Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. The concentration of the DBPs that repressed 50% of CHO cell growth with a 72 h exposure was calculated as the %C1/2 value. Using these values the rank order (from highest to lowest cytotoxicity) was bromonitromethane, dibromonitromethane, tribromonitromethane, bromoacetic acid, dibromoacetic acid, and tribromoacetic acid. Genotoxicity analyses of the DBPs were conducted using the single cell gel electrophoresis (SCGE) assay. This assay detects genomic DNA damage at the level of the individual nucleus. Using SCGE genotoxic potency the rank order was bromoacetic acid> dibromonitromethane>>bromonitromethane>dibromoacetic acid>tribromoacetic acid. The relative cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of these agents were compared with Salmonella typhimurium. Studies of specific DBPs in mammalian cell systems are important to compare the toxicity of these hazardous water contaminants. Such knowledge is necessary for risk assessment and to assist in the formulation of public regulatory policies that protect the environment and the public health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-116
Number of pages8
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - 2000
EventProceedings of the 3rd IAWQ Specialised Conference on Hazard Assessment and Control of Environmental Contaminants - Shiga, Jpn
Duration: Dec 5 1999Dec 8 1999


  • Chinese hamster ovary cells
  • Mammalian cells
  • SCGE
  • Single cell gel electrophoresis
  • Water disinfection by-products

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology

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