Alternative testing systems for evaluating noncarcinogenic, hematologic toxicity

Environ Health Perspect. 1998 Apr;106 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):541-57. doi: 10.1289/ehp.98106541.


Hematopoietic tissues are the targets of numerous xenobiotics. Clinical hematotoxicity is either a decrease or an increase in peripheral blood cell counts in one or more cell lineages--a cytopenia or a cytosis, respectively--that carries a risk of an adverse clinical event. The purpose of in vitro hematotoxicology is the prediction of these adverse hematologic effects from the effects of the toxicants on human hematopoietic targets under controlled experimental conditions in the laboratory. Building on its important foundations in experimental hematology and the wealth of hematotoxicology data found in experimental oncology, this field of alternative toxicology has developed rapidly during the past decade. Although the colony-forming unit-granulocyte/monocyte neutrophil progenitor is most frequently evaluated, other defined progenitors and stem cells as well as cell types found in the marrow stroma can be evaluated in vitro. End points have been proposed for predicting toxicant exposure levels at the maximum tolerated dose and the no observable adverse effect level for the neutrophil lineage, and several clinical prediction models for neutropenia have developed to the point that they are ready for prospective evaluation and validation in both preclinical species and humans. Known predictive end points are the key to successful comparisons across species or across chemical structures when in vitro dose-response curves are nonparallel. Analytical chemistry support is critical for accurate interpretation of in vitro data and for relating the in vitro pharmacodynamics to the in vivo pharmacokinetics. In contrast to acute neutropenia, anemia and acute thrombocytopenia, as well as adverse effects from chronic toxicant exposure, are much more difficult to predict from in vitro data. Pharmacologic principles critical for clinical predictions from in vitro data very likely will apply to toxicities to other proliferative tissues, such as mucositis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / chemically induced
  • Animal Testing Alternatives*
  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Hematology / methods*
  • Hematology / trends
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Neutropenia / chemically induced
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Thrombocytopenia / chemically induced
  • Toxicity Tests / methods*
  • Xenobiotics / pharmacokinetics
  • Xenobiotics / toxicity*


  • Xenobiotics