Cell Biology and Toxicology

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 107–116 | Cite as

Use of in vitro assays to assess hematotoxic effects of environmental compounds

  • R.L. Van Den Heuvel
  • H. Leppens
  • G.E.R. Schoeters


The number of chemicals being introduced into the environment increases and many of these substances may pose a health risk to exposed individuals. Many environmental toxicants with a potential toxicity to the hematopoietic system have been identified by animal experiments. Owing to the risks of severe chronic hematopoietic disorders, it is important to screen chemicals for their hematotoxicity. The aim of this work was to identify, through the use ofin vitro techniques, targets for hematotoxic effects. Our study focused on myeloid and erythroid hematopoietic progenitors and stromal stem cells as possible targets. Thein vitro assays showed that various hematotoxic compounds exert different effects on these cell populations.

In vitro exposure of murine bone marrow cells to various inorganic (cadmium, lead) and organic (benzene metabolites, lindane, benzo-[a]-pyrene (BaP), PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) congeners) environmental chemicals indicated that hematopoietic or stromal bone marrow cells were targets for most of the chemicals. Stromal cells were more affected by lead, cadmium, and BaP compared to myeloid cells. Benzene and phenol gave no response, but the metabolites catechol and hydroquinone were equally toxic to the stromal and the myeloid progenitor cells. Among the PCBs tested, PCB126 was most toxic.

Human progenitor cells derived from cord blood were exposedin vitro to catechol, hydroquinone, lead nitrate, and PCBs. Human hematopoietic cells were sensitive to the tested compounds. Human erythroid progenitors are more susceptible to lead exposure than are myeloid progenitors. Based on thein vitro tests, humans are more sensitive to lead, catechol, and PCB126 than are mice. In contrast to the murine data, humans responded with individual differences to lead and PCB126.

hematopoietic cells stromal bone marrow cells cord blood heavy metals lindane PCB benzene 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • R.L. Van Den Heuvel
    • 1
  • H. Leppens
    • 1
  • G.E.R. Schoeters
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental ToxicologyVITO (Flemish Institute for Technological Research)MolBelgium

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