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Cell Bioassays for Detection of Aryl Hydrocarbon (AhR) and Estrogen Receptor (ER)

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A review article by Klara Hilscherova et al. on Environ. Sci. & Pollut. Res. 7 (3) 2000. Abstract: In vitro cell bioassays are useful techniques for the determination of receptor-mediated activities in environmental samples containing complex mixtures of contaminants. The cell bioassays determine contamination by pollutants that act through specific modes of action. This article presents strategies for the evaluation of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR)- (hereafter referred as dioxin-like) or estrogen receptor (ER)-mediated activities of potential endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) in complex environmental mixtures. Extracts from various types of environmental or food matrices can be tested by this technique to evaluate their 2,3,7,8- tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin equivalents (TCDD-EQs) or estrogenic equivalents (E2-EQs) and to identify contaminated samples that need further investigation using resource-intensive instrumental analyses. Fractionation of sample extracts exhibiting significant activities, and subsequent reanalysis with the bioassays can identify important classes of contaminants that are responsible for the observed activity. Effect-directed chemical analysis is performed only for the active fractions to determine the responsible compounds. Mass-balance estimates of all major compounds contributing to the observed effects can be calculated to determine if all of the activity has been identified, and to assess the potential for interactions such as synergism or antagonism among contaminants present in the complex mixtures. The bioassay approach is an efficient (fast and cost effective) screening system to identify the samples of interest and to provide basic information for further analysis and risk evaluation.
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