Characterization of the MDCK cell line for screening neurotoxicants

Neurotoxicology. Summer 1996;17(2):433-43.


The adoption of cell culture models to screen putative neurotoxicants is recognized in view of the consequences of nerve damage by environmental chemicals. Developing cell culture models that mimic certain properties of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) would be especially useful in view of the barrier's strategic role in the neurotoxic process. The present study evaluates a kidney epithelial cell line for its functional and enzymatic resemblance to cerebral endothelial cells. Madin-Darby canine kidney (i.e., MDCK) cells display morphological (i.e., ultrastructurally defined tight junctions), enzymatic (acetylcholinesterase, butyrylcholinesterase, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase, superoxide dismutase, alkaline phosphatase, lactate dehydrogenase), and antigenic cell markers (i.e., Factor VIII), also found in cerebral endothelial cells. In addition, MDCK cells develop electrical resistance which is increased in response to conditioned media from astroglial cell lines (i.e., C6). These results suggest that the MDCK cell line might be useful for identifying neurotoxic chemicals that affect BBB integrity through similar endpoints.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / analysis
  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / drug effects*
  • Cell Line / drug effects
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Dogs
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Factor VIII / analysis
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / analysis
  • Glioma / pathology
  • Glioma / ultrastructure
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney / ultrastructure
  • Toxicity Tests / methods*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Factor VIII
  • Acetylcholinesterase