Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 4037–4050 | Cite as

In vitro tools for the toxicological evaluation of sediments and dredged materials: intra- and inter-laboratory comparisons of chemical and bioanalytical methods

  • Kathrin Eichbaum
  • Markus Brinkmann
  • Leonie Nuesser
  • Carolin Gembé
  • Marina Ohlig
  • Sebastian Buchinger
  • Georg Reifferscheid
  • Markus Hecker
  • John P. Giesy
  • Henner HollertEmail author
Effect-related evaluation of anthropogenic trace substances, -concepts for genotoxicity, neurotoxicity and, endocrine effects


The implementation of in vitro bioassays for the screening of dioxin-like compounds (DLCs) into management guidelines of dredged material is of increasing interest to regulators and risk assessors. This study reports on an intra- and inter-laboratory comparison study between four independent laboratories. A bioassay battery consisting of RTL-W1 (7-ethoxy-resorufin-O-deethylase; EROD), H4IIE (micro-EROD), and H4IIE-luc cells was used to assess aryl hydrocarbon receptor-mediated effects of sediments from two major European rivers, differently contaminated with DLCs. Each assay was validated by characterization of its limit of detection (LOD) and quantification (LOQ), z-factor, reproducibility, and repeatability. DLC concentrations were measured using high-resolution gas chromatography/high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRGC/HRMS) and compared to bioassay-specific responses via toxicity equivalents (TEQs) on intra- and inter-laboratory levels. The micro-EROD assay exhibited the best overall performance among the bioassays. It was ranked excellent (z-factor = 0.54), reached a repeatability > 75%, was highly comparable (r 2 = 0.87) and reproducible (83%) between two laboratories, and was well correlated (r 2 = 0.803) with TEQs. Its LOD and LOQ of 0.5 and 0.7 pM 2,3,7,8-TCDD, respectively, approached LOQs of HRGC/HRMS measurements. In contrast, cell lines RTL-W1 and H4IIE-luc produced LODs > 0.7 pM 2,3,7,8-TCDD, LOQs > 1.7 pM 2,3,7,8-TCDD, and repeatability < 70%. Based on the data obtained, the micro-EROD assay is the most favorable bioanalytical tool, and via a micro-EROD-based limit value, it would allow for the assessment of sediment DLC concentrations; thus, it could be considered for the implementation into testing and management guidelines for dredged materials.


Biological effect-based assessment BEQ Dredged material management Micro-EROD TEQ 



The present work forms a part of the dioRAMA project (“dioxin Risk Assessment for sediment Management Approaches”), which received funds from the “Title Group 05” of the German Federal Government. M.B. received a personal stipend from the German National Academic Foundation (“Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes”) and is currently a Banting postdoctoral fellow of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Profs. Dr. Giesy and Hecker were supported by the Canada Research Chair Program. Furthermore, Dr. Giesy was supported by a visiting distinguished professorship in the Department of Biology and Chemistry and State Key Laboratory in Marine Pollution, City University of Hong Kong, the 2012 “High Level Foreign Experts” (#GDW20123200120) program, funded by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, the People’s Republic of China to Nanjing University, and the Einstein Professor Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Prof. Dr. Hollert was supported by the Chinese 111 Program (College of Environmental Science and Engineering and Key Laboratory of Yangtze Water environment, Ministry of Education, Tongji University). Special thanks go to Dr. Stephan Hamm and Dr. Armin Maulshagen from mas (Münster Analytical Solutions GmbH), Münster, Germany for the HRGC/HRMS measurements and their kind contribution to this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathrin Eichbaum
    • 1
  • Markus Brinkmann
    • 1
    • 2
  • Leonie Nuesser
    • 1
  • Carolin Gembé
    • 1
  • Marina Ohlig
    • 3
  • Sebastian Buchinger
    • 3
  • Georg Reifferscheid
    • 3
  • Markus Hecker
    • 2
  • John P. Giesy
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
  • Henner Hollert
    • 1
    • 8
    • 9
    • 10
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Ecosystem Analysis, Institute for Environmental Research, ABBt–Aachen Biology and BiotechnologyRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  2. 2.School of the Environment and Sustainability and Toxicology CentreUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  3. 3.Department G3: Biochemistry, EcotoxicologyFederal Institute of Hydrology (BFG)KoblenzGermany
  4. 4.Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences and Toxicology CentreUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  5. 5.Department of Zoology and Center for Integrative ToxicologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  6. 6.Department of BiologyHong Kong Baptist UniversityKowloonChina
  7. 7.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of Hong KongHong Kong, SARChina
  8. 8.Key Laboratory of Yangtze River Environment of Education Ministry of China, College of Environmental Science and EngineeringTongji UniversityShanghaiChina
  9. 9.College of Resources and Environmental ScienceChongqing UniversityChongqingChina
  10. 10.School of EnvironmentNanjing UniversityNanjingChina

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