I just looked at a paper that in one assay tested a variety of chemicals and chemical mixtures against human cell cultures. They exposed HEK 293 cell cultures for 24 hours to the various chemicals.

One aspect I find dubious is that the chemical found to be the most toxic is a detergent. I only have negligible experience with cell culture experiments, but my assumption here would be that any kind of detergent would obviously disrupt the cell membrane and kill cells. And this kind of mechanism is not really transferable to actual humans, something that only disrupts cell membranes wouldn't be very effective against the entire organism.

How valid are toxicological experiments made in cell cultures with substances that are detergents or have similar effects? Does this make it impossible to draw any conclusions about toxicity as I suspect? Or can you still gain valid toxicological data about this kind of chemical from cell culture experiments?

  • $\begingroup$ I'm intentionally not linking to the specific paper as I want to focus on the general question, and I suspect this would side-track the discussion. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Aug 11 '18 at 18:20

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