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Testing chemicals for fish acute toxicity is a legal requirement in many countries as part of environmental risk assessment. To reduce the numbers of fish used, substantial efforts have been focussed on alternative approaches. Prominently, the cell viability assay with the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) gill cell line, RTgill-W1, has been recognized, owing to its high predictive power and robustness. Like gills, the intestine is considered a major site of chemical uptake and biotransformation but, in contrast to gills, is expected to be exposed to rather hydrophobic chemicals, which enter the fish via food. In the present study, we therefore aimed to extend the cell bioassay to the rainbow trout epithelial cell line from intestine, RTgutGC. Using 16 hydrophobic and volatile chemicals from the fragrance palette, we showed that also the RTgutGC cell line can be used to predict fish acute toxicity of chemicals and yields intra-laboratory variability in line with other bioassays. By comparing the RTgutGC toxicity to a study employing the RTgill-W1 assay on the same group of chemicals, a fragrance specific relationship was established which reflects an almost perfect 1:1 relationship between in vitro and in vivo toxicity results. Thus, both cell lines can be used to predict fish acute toxicity, either by using the obtained in vivo-in vitro relationship or by taking the in vitro results at face value. We moreover demonstrate the derivation of non-toxic concentrations for downstream applications which rely on a healthy cell state, such as the assessment of biotransformation or chemical transfer.
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