The differential effects of cadmium exposure on the growth and survival of primary and established cells from fish and mammals
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The differential cytotoxic effects of cadmium on fish and mammalian epithelial cells in established and primary culture were assessed by looking at the reduction of the colony-forming ability and reduction in the extent of growth. The influence of medium composition on the toxicity of cadmium was also studied using serum-free and serum-containing media. The experiments using immortalized cell lines showed that mammalian cells were more sensitive than fish cells to cadmium. Both cell types were grown at the same serum concentration. However, using the normal primary system, human epithelial tissue explants showed less sensitivity to cadmium than did similar cultures from rainbow trout. It is likely that cellular mechanisms of cadmium resistance in the different cell types are responsible for these effects. As expected, cadmium proved to be more toxic when tested in serum-free medium. With fish skin primary cultures, reduction of cell numbers was observed at concentrations as low as 5 mumol/L in serum-free medium compared to 100 mumol/L in serum-containing medium. This was found to be due to the reduction in the activity of free cadmium ions, caused by the presence of serum in the medium. It is concluded that serum-free formulations are probably preferable when testing pollutants in vitro. The results highlight the importance of establishing species-specific pollution tests and standardizing variables. In summary, the results show species and culture media differences in cadmium toxicity and suggest that caution is required when extrapolating results for pollutant effects from one in vitro system to another.
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