Metabolic characterization of cell systems used in in vitro toxicology testing: lung cell system BEAS-2B as a working example

Garcia-Canton C, Minet E, Anadon A, Meredith C
Source: Toxicol In Vitro
Publication Date: (2013)
Issue: 27(6): 1719-27
Research Area:
Basic Research
The bioactivation of pro-toxicants is the biological process through which some chemicals are metabolized into reactive metabolites. Therefore, in vitro toxicological evaluation should ideally be conducted in cell systems retaining adequate metabolic competency and relevant to the route of exposure. The respiratory tract is the primary route of exposure to inhaled pro-toxicants and lung-derived BEAS-2B cell line has been considered as a potentially suitable model for in vitro toxicology testing. However, its metabolic activity has not been characterized. We performed a gene expression analysis for 41 metabolism-related genes and compared the profile with liver- and lung-derived cell lines (HepaRG, HepG2 and A549). To confirm that mRNA expression was associated with the corresponding enzyme activity, we used a series of metabolic substrates of CYPs (CYP1A1/1B1, CYP1A2, CYP2A6/2A13 and CYP2E1) known to bioactivate inhaled pro-toxicants. CYP activities were compared between BEAS-2B, HepaRG, HepG2, and A549 cells and published literature on primary bronchial epithelium cells (HBEC). We found that in contrast to HBEC, BEAS-2B and A549 have limited CYP activity which was in agreement with their CYP gene expression profile. Control cell lines such as HepG2 and HepaRG were metabolically active for the tested CYPs. We recommend that similar strategies can be used to select suitable cell systems in the context of pro-toxicant assessment.