Polar compounds dominate in vitro effects of sediment extracts.
Sediment extracts from three polluted sites of the river Elbe basin were fractionated using a novel online fractionation procedure. Resulting fractions were screened for mutagenic, aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR)-mediated, transthyretin (TTR)-binding, and estrogenic activities and their potency to inhibit gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) to compare toxicity patterns and identify priority fractions. Additionally, more than 200 compounds and compound classes were identified using GC-MS/MS, LC-MS/MS, and HPLC-DAD methods. For all investigated end points, major activities were found in polar fractions, which are defined here as fractions containing dominantly compounds with at least one polar functional group. Nonpolar PAH fractions contributed to mutagenic and AhR-mediated activities while inhibition of GJIC and estrogenic and TTR-binding activities were exclusively observed in the polar fractions. Known mutagens in polar fractions included nitro- and dinitro-PAHs, azaarenes, and keto-PAHs, while parent and monomethylated PAHs such as benzo[a]pyrene and benzofluoranthenes were identified in nonpolar fractions. Additionally, for one sample, high AhR-mediated activities were determined in one fraction characterized by PCDD/Fs, PCBs, and PCNs. Estrone, 17β-estradiol, 9H-benz[de]anthracen-7-one, and 4-nonylphenol were identified as possible estrogenic and TTR-binding compounds. Thus, not only nonpolar compounds such as PAHs, PCBs, and PCDD/Fs but also the less characterized and investigated more polar substances should be considered as potent mutagenic, estrogenic, AhR-inducing, TTR-binding, and GJIC-inhibiting components for future studies.
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