Many in vitro developmental toxicity assays have been proposed over several decades. Since the late 1980s, we have made intermittent attempts to introduce in vitro assays as screening tests for developmental toxicity of in-house candidate products. Two cell-based assays which were developed two decades apart were intensively studied. One was an assay of inhibitory effects on mouse ascites tumor cell attachment to a concanavalin A-coated plastic sheet surface (MOT assay), which we studied in the early days of assay development. The other was an assay of inhibitory effects on the differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cell to beating heart cells (EST assay), which we assessed more recently. We evaluated the suitability of the assays for screening in-house candidates. The concordance rates with in vivo developmental toxicity were at the 60% level. The EST assay classified chemicals that inhibited cell proliferation as embryo-toxic. Both assays had a significant false positive rate. The assays were generally considered unsuitable for screening the developmental toxicity of our candidate compounds. Recent test systems adopt advanced technologies. Despite such evolution of materials and methods, the concordance rates of the EST and MOT systems were similar. This may suggest that the fundamental predictivity of in vitro developmental toxicity assays has remained basically unchanged for decades. To improve their predictivity, in vitro developmental toxicity assays should be strictly based on elucidated pathogenetic mechanisms of developmental toxicity.
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Kawamura, S., Horie, N., Okahashi, N. et al. Implications for the Predictivity of Cell-Based Developmental Toxicity Assays Developed Two Decades Apart. Toxicol Res. 35, 343–351 (2019). https://doi.org/10.5487/TR.2019.35.4.343