Document Type


Date of Degree


Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Human Toxicology

First Advisor

Garry R. Buettner


New medical treatments, compounds that affect human health, nutritional supplements, and other substances, are introduced to society every day. The accurate determination of the potential toxicity from these substances is of critical importance to our society. Goals of the modern toxicologist not only involve the determination of the toxic potential of new substances but also: the elucidation of mechanisms; improving existing assays; and developing new assays to study toxicity. This thesis addresses these goals in two topics fundamental to toxicology. Re-evaluating the expression of dose and susceptibility of cells in culture The exposure of cells in culture to drugs, xenobiotics, and other compounds is one of the first tools used to determine the potential for toxicity. Problems can arise when results of these experiments are translated to next-level toxicity experiments (e.g. animals and humans). I hypothesized that "dose" in cell culture can be improved by designing and reporting experiments based on dose in moles per cell. When experiments were compared on an extracellular concentration basis, a large apparent variability in toxicity was observed. However, if these same exposures were expressed as moles per cell, all experiments yielded the same toxicity. In addition to the evaluation of mole per cell, I investigated the susceptibility of various cells to 1,4-benzoquinone. I hypothesized that upon exposure to toxins that bind covalently, larger cells would require more molecules per cell of toxin versus a smaller cell to achieve identical toxicities. I found a linear correlation between cell volume(pL) and ED50 (mole per cell where 50 % cell viability is lost), supporting my hypothesis.

This work could improve current cell culture protocols and allow for better and less expensive determination of toxicities. Heritability of the red blood cell storage lesion Blood transfusions are an integral part of modern medicine with 5 million people receiving blood each year in the United States. There is growing evidence that red blood cells (RBCs) stored for longer periods are less therapeutically beneficial and could even be harmful to patients. This phenomenon of diminished RBC function with increased time in storage is called the storage lesion. However, there is great variation between different donors in the severity of the storage lesion in their donated RBCs.

I hypothesized that part of this variability in the RBC storage lesion is determined by heritable genetic differences. To test this hypothesis, a study using mono- and di-zygotic twins was performed to determine the heritability of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), glutathione (GSH), glutathione disulfide (GSSG) and hemolysis in stored blood. Major discoveries in this study include: GSH, GSSG, and the half-cell reduction potential (Ehc) are heritable (57 %, 51 %, and 70 %, respectively) in non-stored RBCs. In addition, ATP was found to be heritable in two different storage solutions (62 % in AS-3, 71 % in CP2D); as well as GSH, GSSG, Ehc and hemolysis (59 %, 48 %, 64 %, and 53 %, respectively).

These discoveries could eventually be used to develop new genetic tests that would predict the rate of deterioration in stored blood quality on an individual basis.


Cell culture, Heritability, Red blood cells, Redox biology, Simulations, Xenobiotics


xii, 171




Copyright 2013 Thomas Joost van 't Erve

Included in

Toxicology Commons