Rapid sublethal toxicity assessment using bioluminescent Caenorhabditis elegans, a novel whole-animal metabolic biosensor

Cristina Lagido, Debbie McLaggan, Aileen Flett, Jonathan Pettitt, L Anne Glover

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25 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Sublethal metabolic effects are informative toxicological end points. We used a rapid quantitative metabolic end point, bioluminescence of firefly luciferase expressing Caenorhabditis elegans, to assess effects of sublethal chronic exposure (19 h) to the oxidative stress agent and environmental pollutant cadmium (provided as chloride salt). Bioluminescence declined in a concentration-dependent manner in the concentration range tested (0-30 microM Cd), with comparable sensitivity to reproduction and developmental assay end points (after 67 and 72 h, respectively). Cd concentrations that resulted in 20% reduction in bioluminescence (EC(20)) were 11.8-13.0 microM, whereas the reproduction EC(20) (67 h exposure) was 10.2 microM. At low concentrations of Cd (< or = 15 microM), the decline in bioluminescence reflected a drop in ATP levels. At Cd concentrations of 15-30 microM, decreased bioluminescence was attributable both to effects of Cd on ATP levels and decreased production of luciferase proteins, concomitant with a decline in protein levels. We show that whole-animal bioluminescence is a valid toxicological end point and a rapid and sensitive predictor of effects of Cd exposure on development and reproduction. This provides a platform for high-throughput sublethal screening and will potentially contribute to reduction of testing in higher animals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-95
Number of pages8
JournalToxicological Sciences
Volume109
Issue number1
Early online date18 Mar 2009
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2009

Keywords

  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • sublethal toxicity screening
  • ATP
  • firefly luciferase
  • cadmium

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