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Open Access Research article

In vivo – in vitro toxicogenomic comparison of TCDD-elicited gene expression in Hepa1c1c7 mouse hepatoma cells and C57BL/6 hepatic tissue

Edward Dere12, Darrell R Boverhof123, Lyle D Burgoon123 and Timothy R Zacharewski123*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing MI, 48824-1319, USA

2 National Food Safety & Toxicology Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing MI, 48824-1319, USA

3 Center for Integrative Toxicology, Michigan State University, East Lansing MI, 48824-1319, USA

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BMC Genomics 2006, 7:80  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-80

Published: 12 April 2006



In vitro systems have inherent limitations in their ability to model whole organism gene responses, which must be identified and appropriately considered when developing predictive biomarkers of in vivo toxicity. Systematic comparison of in vitro and in vivo temporal gene expression profiles were conducted to assess the ability of Hepa1c1c7 mouse hepatoma cells to model hepatic responses in C57BL/6 mice following treatment with 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD).


Gene expression analysis and functional gene annotation indicate that Hepa1c1c7 cells appropriately modeled the induction of xenobiotic metabolism genes in vivo. However, responses associated with cell cycle progression and proliferation were unique to Hepa1c1c7 cells, consistent with the cell cycle arrest effects of TCDD on rapidly dividing cells. In contrast, lipid metabolism and immune responses, representative of whole organism effects in vivo, were not replicated in Hepa1c1c7 cells.


These results identified inherent differences in TCDD-mediated gene expression responses between these models and highlighted the limitations of in vitro systems in modeling whole organism responses, and additionally identified potential predictive biomarkers of toxicity.