Primary cultures or established cell lines of vertebrates are commonly used to analyse the mutagenic, embryotoxic or teratogenic potential of environmental factors, drugs and xenobiotics in vitro. However, these cellular systems do not include developmental processes from early embryonic stages up to terminally differentiated cell types. An alternative approach has been offered by permanent lines of pluripotent stem cells of embryonic origin, such as embryonic carcinoma (EC), embryonic stem (ES) and embryonic germ (EG) cells. The undifferentiated stem cell lines are characterized by nearly unlimited self-renewal capacity and have been shown to differentiate in vitro into cells of all three primary germ layers. Pluripotent embryonic stem cell lines recapitulate cellular developmental processes and gene expression patterns of early embryogenesis during in vitro differentiation, data which are summarized in this review. In addition, recent studies are presented which investigated mutagenic, cytotoxic and embryotoxic effects of chemical substances using in vitro systems of pluripotent embryonic stem cells. Furthermore, an outlook is given on future molecular technologies using embryonic stem cells in developmental toxicology and embryotoxicology.
Strategische Forschungsbereiche und Zentren
- Forschungsschwerpunkt: Infektion und Entzündung - Zentrum für Infektions- und Entzündungsforschung Lübeck (ZIEL)