Comparison of the mouse Embryonic Stem cell Test, the rat Whole Embryo Culture and the Zebrafish Embryotoxicity Test as alternative methods for developmental toxicity testing of six 1,2,4-triazoles

Esther C. de Jong*, Marta Barenys, Sanne A. B. Hermsen, Aart Verhoef, Bernadette C. Ossendorp, Jos G. M. Bessems, Aldert H. Piersma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The relatively high experimental animal use in developmental toxicity testing has stimulated the search for alternatives that are less animal intensive. Three widely studied alternative assays are the mouse Embryonic Stem cell Test (EST), the Zebrafish Embryotoxicity Test (ZET) and the rat postimplantation Whole Embryo Culture (WEC). The goal of this study was to determine their efficacy in assessing the relative developmental toxicity of six 1,2,4-triazole compounds,(1) flusilazole, hexaconazole, cyproconazole, triadimefon, myclobutanil and triticonazole. For this purpose, we analyzed effects and relative potencies of the compounds in and among the alternative assays and compared the findings to their known in vivo developmental toxicity. Triazoles are antifungal agents used in agriculture and medicine, some of which are known to induce craniofacial and limb abnormalities in rodents. The WEC showed a general pattern of teratogenic effects, typical of exposure to triazoles, mainly consisting of reduction and fusion of the first and second branchial arches, which are in accordance with the craniofacial malformations reported after in vivo exposure. In the EST all triazole compounds inhibited cardiomyocyte differentiation concentration-dependently. Overall, the ZET gave the best correlation with the relative in vivo developmental toxicities of the tested compounds, closely followed by the EST. The relative potencies observed in the WEC showed the lowest correlation with the in vivo developmental toxicity data. These differences in the efficacy between the test systems might be due to differences in compound kinetics, in developmental stages represented and in the relative complexity of the alternative assays.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-111
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011


  • Alternative testing method
  • Triazoles
  • Embryonic stem cell test
  • Zebrafish embryotoxicity test
  • Rat postimplantation whole embryo culture

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