Time-dependent relative potency factors for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and their derivatives in the H4IIE-luc bioassay

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

38 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations


  • Maria Larsson
  • Jessika Hagberg
  • John P. Giesy
  • Magnus Engwall


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943-953
Journal / PublicationEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


The H4IIE-luc transactivation bioassay for aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) agonists was used to investigate the relative potency factors (REPs) of 22 individual polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and their oxygenated-, methylated-, and N-containing derivatives (azaarenes), which are often present in PAH-contaminated soils. Naphthacene and dibenz[ah]acridine exhibited greater AhR-mediated potency, whereas lesser molecular-weight azaarenes were less potent AhR agonists. Six oxygenated PAHs had calculable REPs, but their potencies were less than their parent PAHs. Unlike the parent, unsubstituted PAHs, oxidation of methylated PAHs seemed to increase the AhR-mediated potency of the compounds, with 2-methylanthracene-9,10-dione being almost 2 times more potent than 2-methylanthracene. Both bioassay and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis were used to examine the exposure time-dependent effects on the REPs at 24h, 48h, and 72h of exposure in the H4IIE-luc transactivation bioassay. Changes in concentrations of 5 compounds including the model reference 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin in the cell culture wells were measured, and the amounts in the cell medium, in the cells, and adsorbed to the wells was determined and the influence on the REPs was studied. Declining REP values with increased duration of exposure were shown for all compounds, which we concluded were a consequence of the metabolism of PAHs and PAH derivatives in H4IIe-luc cells. The present study provides new knowledge regarding the degradation and distribution of compounds in the wells during exposure. Environ Toxicol Chem 2014;33:943-953. © 2014 SETAC.

Research Area(s)

  • In vitro Toxicology, Monitoring, Organic contaminants, Polycyclic aromatic compounds (PAHs), Soils, Toxic equivalents

Citation Format(s)