Biological effects of imidazolium ionic liquids with varying chain lengths in acute Vibrio fischeri and WST-1 cell viability assays

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2004 Jul;58(3):396-404. doi: 10.1016/S0147-6513(03)00105-2.


Detailed biological studies of methyl- and some ethylimidazolium ionic liquids in luminescent bacteria as well as in the IPC-81 (leukemia cells) and C6 (glioma cells) rat cell lines are presented. Effective concentrations in these test systems are generally some orders of magnitude lower than effective concentrations [corrected] of the conventional solvents acetone, acetonitrile, methanol, and methyl t-butyl ether. No general influence of the anionic compound in the ionic liquids on toxicity could be found, although they seem to modulate toxicity in some cases. The clear influence of the alkyl chain length on toxicity was quantified by linear regression analysis. Alkyl chain length of the longer alkyl chain was varied from 3 to 10 carbon atoms. Consequences for a design of sustainable alternative solvents are briefly sketched.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cations
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Imidazoles / chemistry
  • Imidazoles / toxicity*
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Rats
  • Tetrazolium Salts
  • Vibrio / drug effects*
  • Vibrio / growth & development


  • 2-(4-iodophenyl)-3-(4-nitrophenyl)-5-(2,4-disulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium
  • Cations
  • Imidazoles
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Tetrazolium Salts