Evaluation of the importance of astrocytes when screening for acute toxicity in neuronal cell systems

Elizabeth Woehrling, Eric J. Hill, Mike Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reliable, high throughput, in vitro preliminary screening batteries have the potential to greatly accelerate the rate at which regulatory neurotoxicity data is generated. This study evaluated the importance of astrocytes when predicting acute toxic potential using a neuronal screening battery of pure neuronal (NT2.N) and astrocytic (NT2.A) and integrated neuronal/astrocytic (NT2.N/A) cell systems derived from the human NT2.D1 cell line, using biochemical endpoints (mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) depolarisation and ATP and GSH depletion). Following exposure for 72 h, the known acute human neurotoxicants trimethyltin-chloride, chloroquine and 6-hydroxydopamine were frequently capable of disrupting biochemical processes in all of the cell systems at non-cytotoxic concentrations. Astrocytes provide key metabolic and protective support to neurons during toxic challenge in vivo and generally the astrocyte containing cell systems showed increased tolerance to toxicant insult compared with the NT2.N mono-culture in vitro. Whilst there was no consistent relationship between MMP, ATP and GSH log IC(50) values for the NT2.N/A and NT2.A cell systems, these data did provide preliminary evidence of modulation of the acute neuronal toxic response by astrocytes. In conclusion, the suitability of NT2 neurons and astrocytes as cell systems for acute toxicity screening deserves further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-113
Number of pages11
JournalNeurotoxicity Research
Issue number2
Early online date11 Jul 2009
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


  • adenosine triphosphate
  • analysis of variance
  • astrocytes
  • cell differentiation
  • transformed cell line
  • tumor cell line
  • coculture techniques
  • preclinical drug evaluation
  • glial fibrillary acidic protein
  • glutathione
  • humans
  • indicators and reagents
  • inhibitory concentration 50
  • mitochondrial membrane potential
  • neurons
  • neurotoxins
  • oxazines
  • spectrophotometry
  • teratocarcinoma
  • tubulin
  • xanthenes


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