Journal article

Establishment of the first humpback whale fibroblast cell lines and their application in chemical risk assessment

This paper reports the first successful derivation and characterization of humpback whale fibroblast cell lines. Primary fibroblasts were isolated from the dermal connective tissue of skin biopsies, cultured at 37 degrees C and 5% CO2 in the standard mammalian medium DMEM/F12 supplemented with 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS). Of nine initial biopsies, two cell lines were established from two different animals and designated HuWa1 and HuWa2. The cells have a stable karyotype with 2n = 44, which has commonly been observed in other baleen whale species. Cells were verified as being fibroblasts based on their spindle-shaped morphology, adherence to plastic and positive immunoreaction to vimentin. Population doubling time was determined to be similar to 41 h and cells were successfully cryopreserved and thawed. To date, HuWa1 cells have been propagated 30 times. Cells proliferate at the tested temperatures, 30, 33.5 and 37 degrees C, but show the highest rate of proliferation at 37 degrees C. Short-term exposure to para,para'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE), a priority compound accumulating in southern hemisphere humpback whales, resulted in a concentration-dependent loss of cell viability. The effective concentration which caused a 50% reduction in HuWa1 cell viability (EC50 value) was approximately six times greater than the EC50 value for the same chemical measured with human dermal fibroblasts. HuWa1 exposed to a natural, p,p'-DDE-containing, chemical mixture extracted from whale blubber showed distinctively higher sensitivity than to p,p'-DDE alone. Thus, we provide the first cytotoxicological data for humpback whales and with establishment of the HuWa cell lines, a unique in vitro model for the study of the whales' sensitivity and cellular response to chemicals and other environmental stressors. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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