Arsenolipids exert less toxicity in a human neuron astrocyte co-culture as compared to the respective monocultures
Arsenic-containing hydrocarbons (AsHCs), natural products found in seafood, have recently been shown to exert toxic effects in human neurons. In this study we assessed the toxicity of three AsHCs in cultured human astrocytes. Due to the high cellular accessibility and substantial toxicity observed astrocytes were identified as further potential brain target cells for arsenolipids. Thereby, the AsHCs exerted a 5–19-fold higher cytotoxicity in astrocytes as compared to arsenite. Next we compared the toxicity of the arsenicals in a co-culture model of the respective human astrocytes and neurons. Notably the AsHCs did not show any substantial toxic effects in the co-culture, while arsenite did. The arsenic accessibility studies indicated that in the co-culture astrocytes protect neurons against cellular arsenic accumulation especially after incubation with arsenolipids. In summary, these data underline the importance of the glial-neuron interaction when assessing the in vitro neurotoxicity of new unclassified metal species.