TransFEr: a new device to measure the transfer of volatile and hydrophobic organic chemicals across an in vitro intestinal fish cell barrier†
Transfer of compounds across cellular barriers is a critical step of compound uptake into organisms. Using in vitro barrier systems to evaluate such transfer is attractive because of the higher throughput and reduced resource needs compared to animal studies. Thus far, however, studying the transfer of hydrophobic and volatile compounds was hampered by the unavailability of in vitro exposure systems that allow for stable and predictable chemical exposure concentrations. To overcome this limitation, we constructed a novel exposure chamber, TransFEr, and tested it with an in vitro epithelial barrier model using the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) intestinal cell line, RTgutGC. Key features of the chamber are its closed design and rotatable silicon segments, which can serve for chemical dosing and sampling. Using the fragrance damascone beta (log KOW: 3.7, log HLC: −3.9) as a pilot chemical, we were able to demonstrate that our exposure chamber provides for stable chemical exposure concentrations and full mass balance. The RTgutGC epithelium served as barrier for damascone beta transfer, which we attribute to chemical retention and biotransformation in the intestinal cells. Nevertheless, substantial transfer of the chemical across the epithelium occurred. When a chemical sink, i.e. a silicon segment, was included in the basolateral chamber to mimic blood constituents binding in vivo, transfer was about three-fold enhanced. We suggest that the presented methodology can help to obtain insights into chemical uptake mechanisms via the intestinal or other epithelia of fish and other animals for hydrophobic and volatile chemicals.