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Comparison of two estrogen chemically activated luciferase expression cell bioassays to liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry for quantifying estrone in water samples

December 21, 2022

Chemically activated luciferase expression (CALUX) cell bioassays are popular tools for assessing endocrine activity of chemicals such as certain environmental contaminants. Although activity equivalents can be obtained from CALUX analysis, directly comparing these equivalents to those obtained from analytical chemistry methods can be problematic because of the complexity of endocrine active pathways. We explored the suitability of two estrogen CALUX bioassays (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development–approved VM7Luc4E2 cell bioassay and the VM7LucERβc9 cell bioassay) for quantitation of estrogen. Quadrupole-time of flight ultraperformance liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC/MS) was selected as a comparative method. Regression analysis of measured estrone (E1) calibration samples showed all three methods to be highly predictive of nominal concentrations (p ≤ 7.5 × 10–51). Extracts of water sampled from laboratory dilutor tanks containing E1 at 0, 20, and 200 ng/L alone and in combination with atrazine were selected to test the quantitative capabilities of the CALUX assays. Process controls (0 and 100 ng E1/L) and a separate E1 standard (10 ng/ml, used to prepare the E1 process control) were also tested. Levels of E1 determined by LC/MS analysis and bioanalytical equivalents (ng E1/L) determined by CALUX analyses were comparable except in certain instances where the samples required dilution prior to CALUX analyses (e.g., the E1 process control and E1 standard). In those instances, measurements by CALUX were slightly but significantly decreased relative to LC/MS. Atrazine had no effect on the ability of either LC/MS or the CALUX bioassays to quantify E1. The present study illustrates the CALUX bioassays as successful in quantifying an estrogen in simple water samples and further characterizes their utility for screening. Environ Toxicol Chem 2023;42:333–339. Published 2022. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2023
Title Comparison of two estrogen chemically activated luciferase expression cell bioassays to liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry for quantifying estrone in water samples
DOI 10.1002/etc.5541
Authors Jennifer C. Brennan, Abigail Henke, Robert Gale, Diane K. Nicks, Donald Tillitt
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Index ID 70240224
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center