In vitro assays presently used for prenatal developmental toxicity (PDT) testing only assess the embryotoxic potential of parent substances and not that of potentially embryotoxic metabolites. Here we combined a biotransformation system, using hamster liver microsomes, with the ES-D3 cell differentiation assay of the embryonic stem cell test (EST) to compare the in vitro PDT potency of two 5-ring polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) and dibenz[a,h]anthracene (DBA), and dimethyl sulfoxide extracts from five PAH-containing petroleum substances (PS) and a gas-to-liquid base oil (GTLb), with and without bioactivation. In the absence of bioactivation, DBA, but not BaP, inhibited the differentiation of ES-D3 cells into beating cardiomyocytes in a concentration-dependent manner. Upon bioactivation, BaP induced in vitro PDT, while its major metabolite 3-hydroxybenzo[a]pyrene was shown to be active in the EST as well. This means BaP needs biotransformation to exert its embryotoxic effects. GTLb extracts tested negative in the EST, with and without bioactivation. The PS-induced PDT in the EST was not substantially changed following bioactivation, implying that metabolism may not play a crucial role for the PS extracts under study to exert the in vitro PDT effects. Altogether, these results indicate that although some PAH require bioactivation to induce PDT, some do not and this latter appears to hold for the (majority of) the PS constituents responsible for the in vitro PDT of these complex substances.
- embryonic stem cell test
- petroleum substances
- polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
- prenatal developmental toxicity