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Cytotoxicity of organic and inorganic compounds to primary cell cultures established from internal tissues of Chelonia mydas

Finlayson, Kimberly A., Leusch, Frederic D.L., van de Merwe, Jason P.
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.664 pp. 958-967
Caretta caretta, Chelonia mydas, animal use replacement, cadmium, cell culture, chemical pollutants, chromium, copper, cytotoxicity, ethics, fibroblasts, heart, interspecific variation, liver, median effective concentration, mercury, risk, sea turtles, small intestine, toxicology, zinc
Chemical contaminants have been found in the tissues of sea turtles from all over the world; however, very little is known about the effects. Recently, in vitro alternatives to live animal testing have been applied to sea turtles due to their ethical and practical benefits. While primary skin fibroblasts have been established for several species of sea turtle, cells from internal organs are lacking, though they may be more relevant due to the well documented accumulation of contaminants within internal tissues. This study established primary cell cultures from the small intestine, heart, liver, ovary and skin of green turtles (Chelonia mydas). Cells were exposed to ten contaminants typically found in sea turtles to examine potential variations in sensitivity among cells established from different organs. Differences between cells established from different animals were also examined, including a comparison of cells established from a turtle with fibropapillomatosis (FP) and healthy turtles. Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) primary skin cells were also included for species comparisons. Significant differences were found between the organ types, with liver and heart being the least sensitive, and skin being the most sensitive. Overall, variation between the organ types was low. Primary skin fibroblasts may be a suitable and representative cell type for in vitro turtle toxicology research, as it is relatively easy to obtain from healthy live animals. Skin cultures provide a more sensitive indication of effect, and could be used as an early warning of the potential effects of chemical contamination. Some species differences were found but no differences were found between cell cultures from an FP turtle and healthy turtles. When EC50 values were compared to accumulation values from the literature, inorganic contaminants, such as Zn, Cd, Cr, Hg, and Cu were identified as posing a potential risk to sea turtle populations around the world.