Toward Streamlined Identification of Dioxin-like Compounds in Environmental Samples through Integration of Suspension Bioassay

Environ Sci Technol. 2017 Mar 21;51(6):3382-3390. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.6b06003. Epub 2017 Mar 1.


Effect-directed analysis (EDA) is a powerful strategy to identify biologically active compounds in environmental samples. However, in current EDA studies, fractionation and handling procedures are laborious, consist of multiple evaporation steps, and thus bear the risk of contamination and decreased recoveries of the target compounds. The low resulting throughput has been one of the major bottlenecks of EDA. Here, we propose a high-throughput EDA (HT-EDA) work-flow combining reversed phase high-performance liquid chromatography fractionation of samples into 96-well microplates, followed by toxicity assessment in the micro-EROD bioassay with the wild-type rat hepatoma H4IIE cells, and chemical analysis of bioactive fractions. The approach was evaluated using single substances, binary mixtures, and extracts of sediment samples collected at the Three Gorges Reservoir, Yangtze River, China, as well as the rivers Rhine and Elbe, Germany. Selected bioactive fractions were analyzed by highly sensitive gas chromatography-atmospheric pressure laser ionization-time-of-flight-mass spectrometry. In addition, we optimized the work-flow by seeding previously adapted suspension-cultured H4IIE cells directly into the microplate used for fractionation, which makes any transfers of fractionated samples unnecessary. The proposed HT-EDA work-flow simplifies the procedure for wider application in ecotoxicology and environmental routine programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Assay
  • Dioxins*
  • Ecotoxicology
  • Geologic Sediments / chemistry*
  • Rivers / chemistry
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical


  • Dioxins
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical