Examination of microcystin neurotoxicity using central and peripheral human neurons
2021, Klima, Stefanie, Suciu, Ilinca, Hoelting, Lisa, Gutbier, Simon, Waldmann, Tanja, Dietrich, Daniel R., Leist, Marcel
Microcystins (MC) are a group of cyanobacterial toxins that comprises MC-LF and other cyclic heptapeptides, best known as potent hepatotoxicants. Cell culture and epidemiological studies suggest that MC might also affect the nervous system, when there is systemic exposure e.g. via drinking water or food. We asked whether in vitro studies with human neurons could provide estimates on the neurotoxicity hazard of MC-LF. First, we used LUHMES neurons, a well-established test system for neurotoxicants and neuropathological processes. These central nervous system cells expressed OATP1A2, a presumed carrier of MC-LF, and we observed selective neurite toxicity in the µM range (EC20 = 3.3 µM ≈ 3.3 µg/ml). Toxicity paralleled transcriptome changes pointed towards attenuated cell maintenance and biosynthetic processes. Prolonged exposure for up to four days did not increase toxicity. As a second model, we used human dorsal root ganglia-like neurons. These peripheral nervous system cells represent parts of the nervous system not protected by the blood brain barrier in humans. Toxicity was observed in a similar concentration range (EC20 = 7.4 µM). We conclude that MC-LF poses a potential neurotoxic hazard in humans. The adverse effect concentrations observed here were orders of magnitude higher than those presumed to be encountered after normal nutritional or environmental exposure. However, the low µM concentrations found to be toxic are close to levels that may be reached after very excessive algae supplement intake.
Stem Cell-Derived Immature Human Dorsal Root Ganglia Neurons to Identify Peripheral Neurotoxicants
2016-04-01, Hoelting, Lisa, Klima, Stefanie, Karreman, Christiaan, Grinberg, Marianna, Meisig, Johannes, Henry, Margit, Rotshteyn, Tamara, Rahnenführer, Jörg, Waldmann, Tanja, Leist, Marcel
Safety sciences and the identification of chemical hazards have been seen as one of the most immediate practical applications of human pluripotent stem cell technology. Protocols for the generation of many desirable human cell types have been developed, but optimization of neuronal models for toxicological use has been astonishingly slow, and the wide, clinically important field of peripheral neurotoxicity is still largely unexplored. A two-step protocol to generate large lots of identical peripheral human neuronal precursors was characterized and adapted to the measurement of peripheral neurotoxicity. High content imaging allowed an unbiased assessment of cell morphology and viability. The computational quantification of neurite growth as a functional parameter highly sensitive to disturbances by toxicants was used as an endpoint reflecting specific neurotoxicity. The differentiation of cells toward dorsal root ganglia neurons was tracked in relation to a large background data set based on gene expression microarrays. On this basis, a peripheral neurotoxicity (PeriTox) test was developed as a first toxicological assay that harnesses the potential of human pluripotent stem cells to generate cell types/tissues that are not otherwise available for the prediction of human systemic organ toxicity. Testing of more than 30 chemicals showed that human neurotoxicants and neurite growth enhancers were correctly identified. Various classes of chemotherapeutic agents causing human peripheral neuropathies were identified, and they were missed when tested on human central neurons. The PeriTox test we established shows the potential of human stem cells for clinically relevant safety testing of drugs in use and of new emerging candidates.
Using Pluripotent Stem Cells and Their Progeny as an In Vitro Model to Assess (Developmental) Neurotoxicity
2015, Hoelting, Lisa, Leist, Marcel, Stoppini, Luc
Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are self-renewing pluripotent cells derived from the inner cell mass (ICM) of blastocyst of the developing embryo. This chapter focuses on the use of (human) pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) and their progeny to assess (developmental) neurotoxicity. The neural tube is formed by neuroepithelial progenitor (NEP) cells. These primary neural stem cells are the origin of nearly all neurons and glial cells of the brain and spinal cord. Since the past few years, human stem cells (hSCs) are a promising source of human cells for mechanistically oriented developmental neurotoxicity /neurotoxicity (DNT/NT) safety assessment. Common methods to assess developmental neurotoxicity rely on high-dose testing in experimental animals. To replace the traditional animal-based tests, alternative in vitro test systems require a high predictivity of adverse neurotoxic effects in the (developing) brain. During neurodevelopment, the process of neurogenesis and gliogenesis occurs highly coordinated directly after neural tube closure.
A high-throughput approach to identify specific neurotoxicants/ developmental toxicants in human neuronal cell function assays
2018-01-21, Delp, Johannes, Gutbier, Simon, Klima, Stefanie, Hoelting, Lisa, Pinto-Gil, Kevin, Hsieh, Jui-Hua, Aichem, Michael, Klein, Karsten, Schreiber, Falk, Leist, Marcel
The (developmental) neurotoxicity hazard is still unknown for most chemicals. Establishing a test battery covering most of the relevant adverse outcome pathways may close this gap, without requiring a huge animal experimentation program. Ideally, each of the assays would cover multiple mechanisms of toxicity. One candidate test is the human LUHMES cell-based NeuriTox test. To evaluate its readiness for larger-scale testing, a proof of concept library assembled by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) was screened. Of the 75 unique compounds, seven were defined as specifically neurotoxic after the hit-confirmation phase and additional ten compounds were generally cytotoxic within the concentration range of up to 20 micromolar. As complementary approach, the library was screened in the PeriTox test, which identifies toxicants affecting the human peripheral nervous system. Of the eight PeriTox hits, five were similar to the NeuriTox hits: rotenone, colchicine, diethylstilbestrol, berberine chloride, and valinomycin. The unique NeuriTox hit, methyl-phenylpyridinium (MPP+) is known from in vivo studies to affect only dopaminergic neurons (which LUHMES cells are). Conversely, the known peripheral neurotoxicant acrylamide was picked up in the PeriTox, but not in the NeuriTox assay. All of the five common hits had also been identified in the published neural crest migration (cMINC) assay, while none of them emerged as cardiotoxicant in a previous screen using the same library. These comparative data suggest that complementary in vitro tests can pick up a broad range of toxicants, and that multiple test results might help to predict organ specificity patterns.
A transcriptome-based classifier to identify developmental toxicants by stem cell testing : design, validation and optimization for histone deacetylase inhibitors
2015, Rempel, Eugen, Hoelting, Lisa, Waldmann, Tanja, Stiegler, Nina, Schildknecht, Stefan, Grinberg, Marianna, Das Gaspar, John Antony, Shinde, Vaibhav, Stöber, Regina, Marchan, Rosemarie, van Thriel, Christoph, Liebing, Julia, Meisig, Johannes, Blüthgen, Nils, Sachinidis, Agapios, Rahnenführer, Jörg, Hengstler, Jan G., Leist, Marcel
Test systems to identify developmental toxicants are urgently needed. A combination of human stem cell technology and transcriptome analysis was to provide a proof of concept that toxicants with a related mode of action can be identified and grouped for read-across. We chose a test system of developmental toxicity, related to the generation of neuroectoderm from pluripotent stem cells (UKN1), and exposed cells for 6 days to the histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) valproic acid, trichostatin A, vorinostat, belinostat, panobinostat and entinostat. To provide insight into their toxic action, we identified HDACi consensus genes, assigned them to superordinate biological processes and mapped them to a human transcription factor network constructed from hundreds of transcriptome data sets. We also tested a heterogeneous group of 'mercurials' (methylmercury, thimerosal, mercury(II)chloride, mercury(II)bromide, 4-chloromercuribenzoic acid, phenylmercuric acid). Microarray data were compared at the highest non-cytotoxic concentration for all 12 toxicants. A support vector machine (SVM)-based classifier predicted all HDACi correctly. For validation, the classifier was applied to legacy data sets of HDACi, and for each exposure situation, the SVM predictions correlated with the developmental toxicity. Finally, optimization of the classifier based on 100 probe sets showed that eight genes (F2RL2, TFAP2B, EDNRA, FOXD3, SIX3, MT1E, ETS1 and LHX2) are sufficient to separate HDACi from mercurials. Our data demonstrate how human stem cells and transcriptome analysis can be combined for mechanistic grouping and prediction of toxicants. Extension of this concept to mechanisms beyond HDACi would allow prediction of human developmental toxicity hazard of unknown compounds with the UKN1 test system.
State-of-the-art of 3D cultures (organs-on-a-chip) in safety testing and pathophysiology
2014, Alepee, Natalie, Bahinski, Tony, Daneshian, Mardas, De Wever, Bart, Fritsche, Ellen, Goldberg, Alan, Hansmann, Jan, Hartung, Thomas, Haycock, John, Hogberg, Helena, Hoelting, Lisa, Kelm, Jens M, Kadereit, Suzanne, McVey, Emily, Landsiedel, Robert, Leist, Marcel, Lubberstedt, Marc, Noor, Fozia, Pellevoisin, Christian, Petersohn, Dirk, Pfannenbecker, Uwe, Reisinger, Kerstin, Ramirez, Tzutzuy, Rothen-Rutishauser, Barbara, Schafer-Korting, Monika, Zeilinger, Katrin, Zurich, Marie-Gabriele
Integrated approaches using different in vitro methods in combination with bioinformatics can (i) increase the success rate and speed of drug development; (ii) improve the accuracy of toxicological risk assessment; and (iii) increase our understanding of disease. An important building block of this strategy that has emerged during the last years are threedimensional (3D) cell culture models. The majority of these models are organotypic, i.e., they aim to reproduce major functions of an organ or organ system. This implies in many cases that more than one cell type forms the 3D structure, and often matrix elements play an important role. This review summarizes the state of the art concerning commonalities of the different models. For instance, the theory of mass transport/metabolite exchange in 3D systems and the special analytical requirements for test endpoints in organotypic cultures are discussed in detail. In the next part, 3D model systems for selected organs - liver, lung, skin, brain - are presented and characterized in dedicated chapters. Also, 3D approaches to the modeling of tumors are presented and discussed. All chapters give a historical background, illustrate the large variety of approaches, and highlight up-and downsides, as well as specific requirements. Moreover, they refer to the application in disease modeling, drug discovery and safety assessment. Finally, consensus recommendations indicate a roadmap for the successful implementation of 3D models in routine screening. It is expected that the use of such models will accelerate progress by reducing error rates and wrong predictions from compound testing.
Definition of transcriptome-based indices for quantitative characterization of chemically disturbed stem cell development: introduction of the STOP-Toxukn and STOP-Toxukk tests
2017, Shinde, Vaibhav, Hoelting, Lisa, Srinivasan, Sureshkumar Perumal, Meisig, Johannes, Meganathan, Kesavan, Jagtap, Smita, Schildknecht, Stefan, Waldmann, Tanja, Leist, Marcel, Sachinidis, Agapios
Stem cell-based in vitro test systems can recapitulate specific phases of human development. In the UKK test system, human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) randomly differentiate into cells of the three germ layers and their derivatives. In the UKN1 test system, hPSCs differentiate into early neural precursor cells. During the normal differentiation period (14 days) of the UKK system, 570 genes [849 probe sets (PSs)] were regulated >fivefold; in the UKN1 system (6 days), 879 genes (1238 PSs) were regulated. We refer to these genes as 'developmental genes'. In the present study, we used genome-wide expression data of 12 test substances in the UKK and UKN1 test systems to understand the basic principles of how chemicals interfere with the spontaneous transcriptional development in both test systems. The set of test compounds included six histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACis), six mercury-containing compounds ('mercurials') and thalidomide. All compounds were tested at the maximum non-cytotoxic concentration, while valproic acid and thalidomide were additionally tested over a wide range of concentrations. In total, 242 genes (252 PSs) in the UKK test system and 793 genes (1092 PSs) in the UKN1 test system were deregulated by the 12 test compounds. We identified sets of 'diagnostic genes' appropriate for the identification of the influence of HDACis or mercurials. Test compounds that interfered with the expression of developmental genes usually antagonized their spontaneous development, meaning that up-regulated developmental genes were suppressed and developmental genes whose expression normally decreases were induced. The fraction of compromised developmental genes varied widely between the test compounds, and it reached up to 60 %. To quantitatively describe disturbed development on a genome-wide basis, we recommend a concept of two indices, 'developmental potency' (D p) and 'developmental index' (D i), whereby D p is the fraction of all developmental genes that are up- or down-regulated by a test compound, and D i is the ratio of overrepresentation of developmental genes among all genes deregulated by a test compound. The use of D i makes hazard identification more sensitive because some compounds compromise the expression of only a relatively small number of genes but have a high propensity to deregulate developmental genes specifically, resulting in a low D p but a high D i. In conclusion, the concept based on the indices D p and D i offers the possibility to quantitatively express the propensity of test compounds to interfere with normal development.
Use of human pluripotent stem cells and their progeny to develop in vitro models for neurotoxicity testing
2015, Hoelting, Lisa
At present, only a minority of commercially available compounds and chemicals have been tested for neurotoxicity (NT) and developmental NT (DNT), although some estimations suggest that almost one third of all chemicals may cause adverse neurological effects. Thus, there is a need for a better and faster testing of all 'daily-use' chemicals. Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have been shown to be a suitable tool for NT/DNT testing, as they can be differentiated into diverse neuronal cell types in the culture plate and thereby recapitulate crucial processes of nervous system development and function. Within the scope of this doctoral thesis we have established three in vitro systems based on hPSCs, which provide insight into different concepts of in vitro (developmental) neurotoxicity testing.
As first step, we have established an hPSC-based 3-D neurosphere system. Long-term exposure to non-cytotoxic concentrations of the DNT gold standard methylmercury or well-defined polyethylene nanoparticles induced changes in the expression profile of a select set of neuronal marker genes. Our data suggest that the system has the potential to detect long-term DNT effects of nanoparticles on neural differentiation.
In the second step, neurally differentiating hPSCs have been exposed to six histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) and six mercurials. We used bioinformatics tools to establish a transcriptome-based classifier to discriminate between these two different groups. The validations by a 'leave-one out' approach and with legacy data sets showed a correct prediction of HDACi under conditions relevant for DNT. These findings indicate that this approach is a suitable tool for DNT assessment to classify groups of compounds according to the toxicity-inducing changes on the transcriptome.
As a final approach, we have established a differentiation protocol to produce hPSC-derived dorsal root ganglia-like cells, which meet the needs for toxicity testing. A broad range of more than 30 compounds was tested by quantifying neurite growth and viability as functional endpoints. A comparison with a similar test of central neurons showed that specific peripheral neurotoxicants were correctly detected in the new test system, but not in another test used for comparison. The results of this comparison suggest the importance of using the correct target cell type for neurotoxicity testing. The findings contribute to new concepts of in vitro (developmental) neurotoxicity test system development and highlighted critical points that have to be considered in test system development.
A 3-dimensional human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived model to detect developmental neurotoxicity of nanoparticles
2013-04, Hoelting, Lisa, Scheinhardt, Benjamin, Bondarenko, Olesja, Schildknecht, Stefan, Kapitza, Marion, Tanavde, Vivek, Tan, Betty, Lee, Qian Yi, Mecking, Stefan, Leist, Marcel, Kadereit, Suzanne
Nanoparticles (NPs) have been shown to accumulate in organs, cross the blood–brain barrier and placenta, and have the potential to elicit developmental neurotoxicity (DNT). Here, we developed a human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived 3-dimensional (3-D) in vitro model that allows for testing of potential developmental neurotoxicants. Early central nervous system PAX6+ precursor cells were generated from hESCs and differentiated further within 3-D structures. The 3-D model was characterized for neural marker expression revealing robust differentiation toward neuronal precursor cells, and gene expression profiling suggested a predominantly forebrain-like development. Altered neural gene expression due to exposure to non-cytotoxic concentrations of the known developmental neurotoxicant, methylmercury, indicated that the 3-D model could detect DNT. To test for specific toxicity of NPs, chemically inert polyethylene NPs (PE-NPs) were chosen. They penetrated deep into the 3-D structures and impacted gene expression at non-cytotoxic concentrations. NOTCH pathway genes such as HES5 and NOTCH1 were reduced in expression, as well as downstream neuronal precursor genes such as NEUROD1 and ASCL1. FOXG1, a patterning marker, was also reduced. As loss of function of these genes results in severe nervous system impairments in mice, our data suggest that the 3-D hESC-derived model could be used to test for Nano-DNT.