Development of a post-mitotic, neuronal-astrocytic cell system, for the prediction of acute neurotoxicity in humans

  • Elizabeth K. Woehrling

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The human NT2.D1 cell line was differentiated to form both a 1:2 co-culture of post-mitotic NT2 neuronal and NT2 astrocytic (NT2.N/A) cells and a pure NT2.N culture. The respective sensitivities to several test chemicals of the NT2.N/A, the NT2.N, and the NT2.D1 cells were evaluated and compared with the CCF-STTG1 astrocytoma cell line, using a combination of basal cytotoxicity and biochemical endpoints. Using the MTT assay, the basal cytotoxicity data estimated the comparative toxicities of the test chemicals (chronic neurotoxin 2,5-hexanedione, cytotoxins 2,3- and 3,4-hexanedione and acute neurotoxins tributyltin- and trimethyltin- chloride) and also provided the non-cytotoxic concentration-range for each compound. Biochemical endpoints examined over the non-cytotoxic range included assays for ATP levels, oxidative status (H2O2 and GSH levels) and caspase-3 levels as an indicator of apoptosis. although the endpoints did not demonstrate the known neurotoxicants to be consistently more toxic to the cell systems with the greatest number of neuronal properties, the NT2 astrocytes appeared to contribute positively to NT2 neuronal health following exposure to all the test chemicals. The NT2.N/A co-culture generally maintained superior ATP and GSH levels and reduced H2O2 levels in comparison with the NT2.N mono-culture. In addition, the pure NT2.N culture showed a significantly lower level of caspase-3 activation compared with the co-culture, suggesting NT2 astrocytes may be important in modulating the mode of cell death following toxic insult. Overall, these studies provide evidence that an in vitro integrated population of post-mitotic human neurons and astrocytes may offer significant relevance to the human in vivo heterogeneous nervous system, when initially screening compounds for acute neurotoxic potential.
Date of Award2007
Original languageEnglish


  • Development
  • post-mitotic
  • neuronal-astrocytic cell system
  • acute neurotoxicity
  • humans

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