Department Environmental Toxicology

Predicting chemical impact on fish growth based on modelling and in vitro cellular responses


The project, funded by 3R Research Foundation Switzerland (3R-Project 145-15) aims to develop an animal-free alternative to replace experiments with fish for quantifying the impact of chemicals on fish growth at early life stages. Hundreds of thousands of fish at this developmental stage are used annually to assess the influence of chemicals on growth. Juveniles are more sensitive than adult fish, and their growth can impact their chances to survive and reproduce. Thus, to reduce the number of fish used for such tests, we propose a method which, for the first time, can quantitatively predict chemical impact on fish growth based on in vitro data. The hypothesis is that reduced fish growth can be predicted based on reduced fish cell population growth scaled to fish using mechanistic models. Indeed, our pilot study (Stadnicka-Michalak et al. 2015) with two chemicals demonstrated that our approach predicts reduced growth of two fish species in excellent agreement with measured in vivo data. This promising step toward alternatives to fish toxicity testing is simple, inexpensive and fast and requires only in vitro data for model calibration.

Recent publications

Stadnicka-Michalak, J.; Schirmer, K.; Ashauer, R. (2015) Toxicology across scales: cell population growth in vitro predicts reduced fish growth, Science Advances, 1(7), 1-8, doi:10.1126/sciadv.1500302, Institutional Repository
Stadnicka-Michalak, J.; Tanneberger, K.; Schirmer, K.; Ashauer, R. (2014) Measured and modeled toxicokinetics in cultured fish cells and application to in vitro - in vivo toxicity extrapolation, PLoS One, 9(3), e92303 (10 pp.), doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0092303, Institutional Repository
Stadnicka, J.; Schirmer, K.; Ashauer, R. (2012) Predicting concentrations of organic chemicals in fish by using toxicokinetic models, Environmental Science and Technology, 46(6), 3273-3280, doi:10.1021/es2043728, Institutional Repository