U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Toxicology in Vitro 26 (2012) 736–745; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tiv.2012.03.010


Rainbow trout gill epithelial cells (RTgill-W1) are used in a cell-based biosensor that can respond within one hour to toxic chemicals that have the potential to contaminate drinking water supplies. RTgill-W1 cells seeded on enclosed fluidic biochips and monitored using electric cell-substrate impedance sensing (ECIS) technology responded to 18 out of the 18 toxic chemicals tested within one hour of exposure. Nine of these chemical responses were within established concentration ranges specified by the U.S. Army for comparison of toxicity sensors for field application. The RTgill-W1 cells remain viable on the biochips at ambient carbon dioxide levels at 6°C for 78 weeks without media changes. RTgill-W1 biochips stored in this manner were challenged with 9.4 μM sodium pentachlorophenate (PCP), a benchmark toxicant, and impedance responses were significant (p < 0.001) for all storage times tested. This poikilothermic cell line has toxicant sensitivity comparable to a mammalian cell line (bovine lung microvessel endothelial cells (BLMVECs)) that was tested on fluidic biochips with the same chemicals. In order to remain viable, the BLMVEC biochips required media replenishments 3 times per week while being maintained at 37°C. The ability of RTgill-W1 biochips to maintain monolayer integrity without media replenishments for 78 weeks, combined with their chemical sensitivity and rapid response time, make them excellent candidates for use in low cost, maintenance-free field-portable biosensors.