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Application of impedance measurement to investigate in vitro inhalation toxicity of bacteria

Background: Workers of agriculture and intensive life stock farming are exposed to highly contaminated workplaces. Bioaerosol exposures are suspected to trigger respiratory health effects of the workers. So far, risk evaluation of bioaerosols has been assessed through the infectivity of comprising biological agents that is classified in Europe by four risk groups according to the criteria of Directive 2000/54EC of the European Parliament. However, this directive additionally requires the risk assessment of allergenic and toxigenic effects without further elaboration. The aim of our study was to establish an in vitro screening system that is able to measure inhalative toxic effects of bacteria and their metabolites.

Methods: In this study, we analyzed three bacterial toxins and five culture supernatants of selected bacteria with known toxicity as model agents exposed to the lung epithelial cell line NuLi-1. We used electrical cell-substrate impedance sensing (ECIS) method to monitor real-time cell changes and the viability test Prestoblue™.

Results: We confirmed concentration dependent cytotoxic effects of the selected toxins in NuLi-1 cells over a period of up to 48 h. Each toxin resulted in a different but specific impedance profile over time according to their mode of action, whereas viability assay showed the metabolic activity of the cells at a chosen time point without revealing any information on their mode of action. Furthermore, dose-response-relationships were monitored. Tested model bacteria (Streptoccous pneumoniae, Acinetobacter radioresistens, Aerococcus viridans, Aeromonas hydrophila) reacted according to their expected toxicity except one bacterium (Enterococcus faecalis). The established assays revealed the concentration dependent onset and intensity of bacterial cytotoxicity and the viability of the cells at 24 h and 48 h exposure.

Conclusion: Impedance measurement and the viability assay Prestoblue™ in combination are suitable as sensitive screening methods to analyze toxic potential of bacteria and can therefor support the risk assessment of workplaces in terms of the directive 2000/54/EC.

The complete article is published in the "Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology" (2021).

Bibliographic information

S. Klar, D.-C. Poether, J. Reinert, N. Hüttig, G. Linsel, U. Jäckel:
Application of impedance measurement to investigate in vitro inhalation toxicity of bacteria. 
in: Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, 16, 32 2021. pages 1-10, Project number: F 2350, PDF file, DOI: 10.1186/s12995-021-00317-z

download file "Application of impedance measurement to investigate in vitro inhalation toxicity of bacteria" (PDF, 794 KB, Not barrier-free file)

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