, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 17-24

The human epithelial cell cytotoxicity assay for determining tissue specific toxicity

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The Human Epithelial Cell Cytotoxicity (HECC) Assay for determining organ specific cytotoxicity uses human epithelial cells from eight different human tissues, including: skin, mammary, prostate, renal, bronchial, oral, ecto-cervix, and liver. Although the initial studies using this assay were conducted using cancer chemopreventive agents, the HECC Assay can also be used to evaluate other types of drugs, personal care products, environmental chemicals, and potential toxicants. Human epithelial cells at an early passage are seeded into multi-well dishes. The cells are exposed to multiple concentrations of a test agent for a three day period. The concentration ranges for test agents in the assay are determined in a preliminary assay using an exposure of five days and log dilutions from the highest soluble concentration. At the end of the exposure period, the cultures are evaluated for inhibition of growth. In the HECC Assay, cultures are exposed for three days. At the end of the exposure period, the cultures are evaluated for inhibition of growth, mitochondrial function, and PCNA expression or albumin synthesis (hepatocytes). Data are analyzed to determine the concentration that inhibited and point by 50 percent (TC50). Values for each agent in each target epithelial cell line or culture and the target tissue specific sensitivity are compared to determine the relative sensitivity of each epithelial cell line to the test agent.