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In Vitro Systems for Toxicity Evaluation of Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds on Humans: Current Status and Trends

Cerimi, Kustrim; Jäckel, Udo; Meyer, Vera; Daher, Ugarit; Reinert, Jessica; Klar, Stefanie

FG Angewandte und Molekulare Mikrobiologie

Microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOC) are metabolic products and by-products of bacteria and fungi. They play an important role in the biosphere: They are responsible for inter- and intra-species communication and can positively or negatively affect growth in plants. But they can also cause discomfort and disease symptoms in humans. Although a link between mVOCs and respiratory health symptoms in humans has been demonstrated by numerous studies, standardized test systems for evaluating the toxicity of mVOCs are currently not available. Also, mVOCs are not considered systematically at regulatory level. We therefore performed a literature survey of existing in vitro exposure systems and lung models in order to summarize the state-of-the-art and discuss their suitability for understanding the potential toxic effects of mVOCs on human health. We present a review of submerged cultivation, air-liquid-interface (ALI), spheroids and organoids as well as multi-organ approaches and compare their advantages and disadvantages. Furthermore, we discuss the limitations of mVOC fingerprinting. However, given the most recent developments in the field, we expect that there will soon be adequate models of the human respiratory tract and its response to mVOCs.