The Journal of toxicological sciences

Cell-type-specific and differentiation-status-dependent variations in cytotoxicity of tributyltin in cultured rat cerebral neurons and astrocytes.

PMID 26165642


Tributyltin (TBT) is an organotin used as an anti-fouling agent for fishing nets and ships and it is a widespread environmental contaminant at present. There is an increasing concern about imperceptible but serious adverse effect(s) of exposure to chemicals existing in the environment on various organs and their physiological functions, e.g. brain and mental function. Here, so as to contribute to improvement of and/or advances in in vitro cell-based assay systems for evaluating brain-targeted adverse effect of chemicals, we tried to evaluate cell-type-specific and differentiation-status-dependent variations in the cytotoxicity of TBT towards neurons and astrocytes using the four culture systems differing in the relative abundance of these two types of cells; primary neuron culture (> 95% neurons), primary neuron-astrocyte (2 : 1) mix culture, primary astrocyte culture (> 95% astrocytes), and passaged astrocyte culture (100% proliferative astrocytes). Cell viability was measured at 48 hr after exposure to TBT in serum-free medium. IC50's of TBT were 198 nM in primary neuron culture, 288 nM in primary neuron-astrocyte mix culture, 2001 nM in primary astrocyte culture, and 1989 nM in passaged astrocyte culture. Furthermore, in primary neuron-astrocyte mix culture, vulnerability of neurons cultured along with astrocytes to TBT toxicity was lower than that of neurons cultured purely in primary neuron culture. On the other hand, astrocytes in primary neuron-astrocyte mix culture were considered to be more vulnerable to TBT than those in primary or passaged astrocyte culture. The present study demonstrated variable cytotoxicity of TBT in neural cells depending on the culture condition.