Title: Dead or dying: the importance of time in cytotoxicity assays using arsenite as an example.
Authors: Komissarova, Elena V; Saha, Sam K; Rossman, Toby G
Published In Toxicol Appl Pharmacol, (2005 Jan 1)
Abstract: Arsenite is a toxicant and environmental pollutant associated with multisite neoplasias and other health effects. The wide range of doses used and the claims that some high doses are "not toxic" in some assays have confounded studies on its mechanism of action. The purpose of this study is to determine whether the treatment time and particularly the duration between treatment and assay are important factors in assessing arsenite toxicity. We compared three commonly used assays: 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT), neutral red (NR), and clonal survival, using human osteogenic sarcoma (HOS) cell line U-2OS. Results from the assays were well correlated only when the factor of time was taken into account. In both the MTT and NR assays, exposure to arsenite for 24 h induced much less toxicity than exposure for 48 or 72 h, which gave similar results. In contrast, results in clonal survival assays showed only a small difference between 24-h exposure and longer exposure times. Arsenite demonstrated delayed cytotoxicity, killing the cells even after its removal from the medium in NR assay. Apoptosis was assessed by TUNEL staining and caspase-3 activation. After treatment for 24 h with 0.1 and 1 microM arsenite, no apoptosis was seen. However, after an additional 24 h in arsenite-free medium, a small amount of apoptosis could be detected, and much more apoptosis was seen after 48 h. In contrast, 10 microM arsenite triggered rapid necrosis and failed to activate caspase 3 or cause TUNEL staining. We also confirmed previous reports that exposure to low concentrations of arsenite caused transient stimulation of cell growth. Our finding of delayed toxicity by arsenite suggests that to avoid underestimation of toxicity, the duration between treatment and assay should be taken into account in choosing appropriate doses for arsenite as well as for other toxicants that may show similar delayed toxicity. The NR and MTT assays should be performed only after an interval of at least 48 h after a 24-h exposure to arsenite.
PubMed ID: 15589980
MeSH Terms: Apoptosis/drug effects; Arsenites/toxicity*; Caspase 3; Caspases/metabolism; Cell Line, Tumor; Cell Survival/drug effects; Enzyme Activation/drug effects; Humans; L-Lactate Dehydrogenase/secretion; Necrosis; Time Factors