Assessment of mixture toxicity of (tri)azoles and their hepatotoxic effects in vitro by means of omics technologies
Consumers are constantly exposed to chemical mixtures such as multiple residues of different pesticides via the diet. This raises questions concerning potential combination effects, especially because these substances are tested for regulatory purposes on an individual basis. With approximately 500 active substances approved as pesticides, there are too many possible combinations to be tested in standard animal experiments generally requested for regulatory purposes. Therefore, the development of in vitro tools and alternative testing strategies for the assessment of mixture effects is extremely important. As a first step in the development of such in vitro tools, we used (tri)azoles as model substances in a set of different cell lines derived from the primary target organ of these substances, the liver (human: HepaRG, rat: H4IIE). Concentrations were reconciled with measured tissue concentrations obtained from in vivo experiments to ensure comparable effect levels. The effects of the substances were subsequently analyzed by transcriptomics and metabolomics techniques and compared to data from corresponding in vivo studies. The results show that similar toxicity pathways are affected by substances and combinations, thus indicating a similar mode of action and additive effects. Two biomarkers obtained by the approach, CAR and Cyp1A1, were used for mixture toxicity modeling and confirmed the concentration-additive effects, thus supporting the selected testing strategy and raising hope for the development of in vitro methods suitable to detect combination effects and prioritize mixtures of concern for further testing.