Esther de Jong

Universiteit Utrecht, Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands

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Publications (12)32.94 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: One of the most studied alternative embryotoxicity assays is the Embryonic Stem cell Test, in which the effect of compounds on cardiomyocyte differentiation is evaluated (subsequently termed the ESTc). This single differentiation endpoint may limit the predictive value of the assay. We recently published a novel embryonic stem cell based osteoblast differentiation assay (subsequently termed the ESTo), in which we studied the effect of six embryotoxic compounds. Differentiation is monitored via the differential expression of three genes related to osteogenesis (Runx2, SPARC and collagen type I). In the current study, we evaluated the effect of fourteen additional compounds in the ESTo, to assess its added value as compared to the ESTc. To this end, we compared the effects of the compounds in the ESTo to their effects in the ESTc and to their published in vivo developmental toxicity profiles. The results show that there is a high overall correlation between compound potencies as regards inhibition of osteoblast and cardiomyocyte differentiation. Moreover, the results in both the ESTo and ESTc showed a significant correlation to in vivo developmental toxicity potency ranking of compounds tested. Interestingly, the embryotoxic effect of TCDD could only be detected using the ESTo, which can be explained based on its mechanism of action and its known inhibitory effect on osteogenesis. The results of TCDD suggest that incorporating the ESTo into a testing battery together with the ESTc could improve the overall predictive value of the battery.
    Reproductive Toxicology 09/2014; · 3.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Availability of chemical response-specific lists of genes (gene sets) for pharmacological and/or toxic effect prediction for compounds is limited. We hypothesize that more gene sets can be created by next-generation text mining (next-gen TM), and that these can be used with gene set analysis (GSA) methods for chemical treatment identification, for pharmacological mechanism elucidation, and for comparing compound toxicity profiles. METHODS: We created 30,211 chemical response-specific gene sets for human and mouse by next-gen TM, and derived 1,189 (human) and 588 (mouse) gene sets from the Comparative Toxicogenomics Database (CTD). We tested for significant differential expression (SDE) (false discovery rate -corrected p-values < 0.05) of the next-gen TM-derived gene sets and the CTD-derived gene sets in gene expression (GE) data sets of five chemicals (from experimental models). We tested for SDE of gene sets for six fibrates in a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARA) knock-out GE dataset and compared to results from the Connectivity Map. We tested for SDE of 319 next-gen TM-derived gene sets for environmental toxicants in three GE data sets of triazoles, and tested for SDE of 442 gene sets associated with embryonic structures. We compared the gene sets to triazole effects seen in the Whole Embryo Culture (WEC), and used principal component analysis (PCA) to discriminate triazoles from other chemicals. RESULTS: Next-gen TM-derived gene sets matching the chemical treatment were significantly altered in three GE data sets, and the corresponding CTD-derived gene sets were significantly altered in five GE data sets. Six next-gen TM-derived and four CTD-derived fibrate gene sets were significantly altered in the PPARA knock-out GE dataset. None of the fibrate signatures in cMap scored significant against the PPARA GE signature. 33 environmental toxicant gene sets were significantly altered in the triazole GE data sets. 21 of these toxicants had a similar toxicity pattern as the triazoles. We confirmed embryotoxic effects, and discriminated triazoles from other chemicals. CONCLUSIONS: Gene set analysis with next-gen TM-derived chemical response-specific gene sets is a scalable method for identifying similarities in gene responses to other chemicals, from which one may infer potential mode of action and/or toxic effect.
    BMC Medical Genomics 01/2013; 6(1):2. · 3.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The embryonic stem cell test (ESTc), in which the effect of chemical compounds on cardiomyocyte differentiation is evaluated, is one of the most studied in vitro alternatives for developmental toxicity testing. Because the assay readout is restricted to a single endpoint of differentiation, compounds that affect alternative differentiation pathways might be overlooked. It has therefore been suggested that the predictive value of the EST may be improved by including alternative differentiation endpoints. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of five teratogenic compounds as well as one non-teratogenic compound on the differentiation of murine embryonic stem cells into osteoblasts (ESTo) and to compare results with those in the classical ESTc. We established an ESTo assay which proved robust, stable and reproducible. In this study, we showed that the evaluated compounds affected osteoblast differentiation both at the level of calcium concentrations in the culture as well as on multiple gene expression. Furthermore, we showed that the effect on calcium concentrations appeared to be primarily mediated by a general apoptotic effect and not by a specific effect on differentiation. The compounds tested showed little difference in their potency in the ESTo as compared to the ESTc. Before a definitive statement can be made regarding the added value of including an osteoblast differentiation endpoint into the EST, more compounds need to be evaluated.
    Toxicology in Vitro 06/2012; 26(6):970-8. · 2.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Alternative developmental toxicity assays are urgently needed to reduce animal use in regulatory developmental toxicology. We previously designed an in vitro murine neural embryonic stem cell test (ESTn) as a model for neurodevelopmental toxicity testing (Theunissen et al., 2010). Toxicogenomic approaches have been suggested for incorporation into the ESTn to further increase predictivity and to provide mechanistic insights. Therefore, in this study, using a transcriptomic approach, we investigated the concentration-dependent effects of three known (neuro) developmental toxicants, two triazoles, cyproconazole (CYP) and hexaconazole (HEX), and the anticonvulsant valproic acid (VPA). Compound effects on gene expression during neural differentiation and corresponding regulated gene ontology (GO) terms were identified after 24 h of exposure in relation to morphological changes on day 11 of culture. Concentration-dependent responses on individual gene expression and on biological processes were determined for each compound, providing information on mechanism and concentration-response characteristics. All compounds caused enrichment of the embryonic development process. CYP and VPA but not HEX significantly enriched the neuron development process. Furthermore, specific responses for triazole compounds and VPA were observed within the GO-term sterol metabolic process. The incorporation of transcriptomics in the ESTn was shown to enable detection of effects, which precede morphological changes and provide a more sensitive measure of concentration-dependent effects as compared with classical morphological assessments. Furthermore, mechanistic insight can be instrumental in the extrapolation of effects in the ESTn to human hazard assessment.
    Toxicological Sciences 11/2011; 125(2):430-8. · 4.33 Impact Factor
  • Reproductive Toxicology 09/2011; 32(2):165-165. · 3.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The relatively high experimental animal use in developmental toxicity testing has stimulated the search for alternatives that are less animal intensive. Three widely studied alternative assays are the mouse Embryonic Stem cell Test (EST), the Zebrafish Embryotoxicity Test (ZET) and the rat postimplantation Whole Embryo Culture (WEC). The goal of this study was to determine their efficacy in assessing the relative developmental toxicity of six 1,2,4-triazole compounds,(1) flusilazole, hexaconazole, cyproconazole, triadimefon, myclobutanil and triticonazole. For this purpose, we analyzed effects and relative potencies of the compounds in and among the alternative assays and compared the findings to their known in vivo developmental toxicity. Triazoles are antifungal agents used in agriculture and medicine, some of which are known to induce craniofacial and limb abnormalities in rodents. The WEC showed a general pattern of teratogenic effects, typical of exposure to triazoles, mainly consisting of reduction and fusion of the first and second branchial arches, which are in accordance with the craniofacial malformations reported after in vivo exposure. In the EST all triazole compounds inhibited cardiomyocyte differentiation concentration-dependently. Overall, the ZET gave the best correlation with the relative in vivo developmental toxicities of the tested compounds, closely followed by the EST. The relative potencies observed in the WEC showed the lowest correlation with the in vivo developmental toxicity data. These differences in the efficacy between the test systems might be due to differences in compound kinetics, in developmental stages represented and in the relative complexity of the alternative assays.
    Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 03/2011; 253(2):103-11. · 3.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: At present, regulatory assessment of systemic toxicity is almost solely carried out using animal models. The European Commission's REACH legislation stimulates the use of animal-free approaches to obtain information on the toxicity of chemicals. In vitro toxicity tests provide in vitro concentration-response curves for specific target cells, whereas in vivo dose-response curves are regularly used for human risk assessment. The present study shows an approach to predict in vivo dose-response curves for developmental toxicity by combining in vitro toxicity data and in silico kinetic modeling. A physiologically based kinetic (PBK) model was developed, describing the kinetics of four glycol ethers and their embryotoxic alkoxyacetic acid metabolites in rat and man. In vitro toxicity data of these metabolites derived in the embryonic stem cell test were used as input in the PBK model to extrapolate in vitro concentration-response curves to predicted in vivo dose-response curves for developmental toxicity of the parent glycol ethers in rat and man. The predicted dose-response curves for rat were found to be in concordance with the embryotoxic dose levels measured in reported in vivo rat studies. Therefore, predicted dose-response curves for rat could be used to set a point of departure for deriving safe exposure limits in human risk assessment. Combining the in vitro toxicity data with a human PBK model allows the prediction of dose-response curves for human developmental toxicity. This approach could therefore provide a means to reduce the need for animal testing in human risk assessment practices.
    Toxicological Sciences 12/2010; 118(2):470-84. · 4.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The embryonic stem cell test (EST) is one of the more promising and extensively studied tests in the field of developmental toxicology. We evaluated the effect of a series of structurally related valproic acid analogues on cardiomyocyte differentiation in the EST. The goal of the present study was to determine the applicability of the EST by potency ranking within this chemical class. Cardiomyocyte differentiation was evaluated by morphological scoring as well as by gene expression analysis of cardiac markers using RT-PCR. All VPA analogues tested inhibited cardiomyocyte differentiation, with the exception of (±)-2-ethyl-4-methyl pentanoic acid, which correlates to their known in vivo developmental toxicity. Effects were also evident on gene expression of cardiomyocyte differentiation-regulated genes, such as MHC and Nkx2.5. Overall, the present results indicate that the assay can be a valuable screening tool in potency ranking of structurally related compounds.
    Reproductive Toxicology 11/2010; 31(4):375-82. · 3.14 Impact Factor
  • Reproductive Toxicology - REPROD TOXICOL. 01/2010; 30(2):236-236.
  • 09/2009;
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    ABSTRACT: The embryonic stem cell test (EST) has been proposed as an in vitro assay that might reduce animal experimentation in regulatory developmental toxicology. So far, evaluation of the EST was not performed using compounds within distinct chemical classes. Evaluation within a distinct class of chemically related compounds can define the usefulness of the assay for the chemical class tested. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the relative sensitivity of the EST for a selected series of homologous compounds and to compare the data to the relative developmental toxicity of the compounds in vivo. To this end a series of proximate developmentally toxic glycol ether alkoxy acid metabolites was tested in the EST. All glycol ether alkoxy acid metabolites tested showed a concentration-dependent inhibition of cardiomyocyte differentiation at noncytotoxic concentrations, with methoxyacetic acid as the most potent compound followed by ethoxyacetic acid, butoxyacetic acid, and phenoxyacetic acid, respectively. The potency ranking of the compounds in the EST corresponds with the available in vivo data. The relative differences between the potencies of the compounds appeared more pronounced in the in vivo studies than in the EST. A possible explanation for this discrepancy could be the difference in the kinetics of the compounds in vivo as compared with their in vitro kinetics. This study illustrates that the EST can be used to set priorities for developmental toxicity testing within classes of related compounds.
    Toxicological Sciences 05/2009; 110(1):117-24. · 4.33 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: At present, regulatory assessment of systemic toxicity is almost solely carried out using animal models. The European Commission's REACH legislation stimulates the use of animal-free approaches to obtain information on the toxicity of chemicals. In vitro toxicity tests provide in vitro concentration-response curves for specific target cells, whereas in vivo dose-response curves are regularly used for human risk assessment. The present study shows an approach to predict in vivo dose-response curves for developmental toxicity by combining in vitro toxicity data and in silico kinetic modeling. A physiologically based kinetic (PBK) model was developed, describing the kinetics of four glycol ethers and their embryotoxic alkoxyacetic acid metabolites in rat and man. In vitro toxicity data of these metabolites derived in the embryonic stem cell test were used as input in the PBK model to extrapolate in vitro concentration-response curves to predicted in vivo dose-response curves for developmental toxicity of the parent glycol ethers in rat and man. The predicted dose-response curves for rat were found to be in concordance with the embryotoxic dose levels measured in reported in vivo rat studies. Therefore, predicted dose-response curves for rat could be used to set a point of departure for deriving safe exposure limits in human risk assessment. Combining the in vitro toxicity data with a human PBK model allows the prediction of dose-response curves for human developmental toxicity. This approach could therefore provide a means to reduce the need for animal testing in human risk assessment practices.

Publication Stats

88 Citations
32.94 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2009–2014
    • Universiteit Utrecht
      • Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS)
      Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • 2009–2013
    • National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)
      • Laboratory for Health Protection Research
      Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands