Comparative assessment of three in vitro exposure methods for combustion toxicity

Fatma Lestari, Boban Markovic, Anthony R. Green, Gautam Chattopadhyay, Amanda J. Hayes

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22 Citations (Scopus)


A comparative assessment of three approaches for the use of human cells in vitro to investigate combustion toxicity was conducted. These included one indirect and two direct (passive and dynamic) exposure methods. The indirect method used an impinger system in which culture medium was used to trap the toxicants, whilst the direct exposure involved the use of a Horizontal Harvard Navicyte Chamber at the air/liquid interface. The cytotoxic effects of thermal decomposition products were assessed using the MTS (3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl) -5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium) assay (Promega) on a selection of human cells including: HepG2, A549 and skin fibroblasts. A small scale laboratory fire test using a vertical tube furnace was designed for the generation of combustion products. Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) was selected as a model polymer to study the cytotoxic effects of combustion products. NOAEC (no observable adverse effect concentration), IC10 (10% inhibitory concentration), IC50 (50% inhibitory concentration) and TLC (total lethal concentration) values were determined from dose response curves. Assessment using the NRU (neutral red uptake) and ATP (adenosine triphosphate) assays on human lung derived cells (A549) was also undertaken. Comparison between in vitro cytotoxicity results against published toxicity data for PMMA combustion and predicted LC50 (50% lethal concentration) values calculated from identified compounds using GCMS (gas chromatography mass spectrometry) was determined. The results suggested that the indirect exposure method did not appear to simulate closely exposure via inhalation, whilst exposure at the air/liquid interface by using the dynamic method proved to be a more representative method of human inhalation. This exposure method may be a potential system for in vitro cytotoxicity testing in combustion toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-114
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Applied Toxicology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Fire combustion products
  • In vitro cytotoxicity
  • MTS assay
  • NRU assay, ATP assay
  • PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate)
  • Thermal decomposition


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