The use of human induced pluripotent stem cells to screen for developmental toxicity potential indicates reduced potential for non-combusted products, when compared to cigarettes [Current Research in Toxicology, November 2020]

Liam Simms, Kathryn Rudd, Jessica Palmer, Lukasz Czekala, Fan Yua, Fiona Chapman, Edgar Trelles Sticken, Roman Wieczorek, Lisa Maria Bode, Matthew Stevenson, Tanvir Walele


devTOX quickPredict (devTOXqP) is a metabolomics biomarker-based assay that utilises human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to screen for potential early stage embryonic developmental toxicity in vitro. Developmental toxicity potential is assessed based on the assay endpoint of the alteration in the ratio of key unrelated biomarkers, ornithine and cystine (o/c)

This work aimed to compare the developmental toxicity potential of tobacco-containing and tobacco-free non-combustible nicotine products to cigarette smoke. Smoke and aerosol from test articles were produced using a Vitrocell VC10 smoke/aerosol exposure system and bubbled into phosphate buffered saline (bPBS). iPS cells were exposed to concentrations of up to 10% bPBS. Assay sensitivity was assessed through a spiking study with a known developmental toxicant, all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA), in combination with cigarette smoke extract.

The bPBS extracts of reference cigarettes (1R6F and 3R4F) and a heated tobacco product (HTP) were predicted to have the potential to induce developmental toxicity, in this screening assay. The bPBS concentration at which these extracts exceeded the developmental toxicity threshold was 0.6% (1R6F), 1.3% (3R4F), and 4.3% (HTP) added to the cell media. Effects from cigarette smoke and HTP aerosol were driven largely by cytotoxicity, with the cell viability and o/c ratio dose–response curves crossing the developmental toxicity thresholds at very similar concentrations of added bPBS. The hybrid product and all the electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) aerosols were not predicted to be potential early developmental toxicants, under the conditions of this screening assay.

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