Application of the luciferase cell culture bioassay for the detection of refined petroleum products

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12 Scopus citations


A luciferase cell culture-based bioassay, developed to detect 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD)-like activity of halogenated and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, was optimized to detect refined petroleum products and to determine their relative inducing potency. Quality control standards from 32 refined products (gasolines and diesels, jet fuels, lubricating oils, fuel oils and weathered products) and three commercial products were evaluated. Induction equivalents (I-EQs) were determined by direct comparison of the EC50 and EC20 values (based on the median and 20% TCDD maximal response, respectively) from dose-response curves for each product to those obtained with TCDD. Most petroleum products were active in the luciferase bioassay, with those products composed of fractions produced later in the distillation process (i.e. fuel oils) inducing higher levels. Additionally, weathering of products reduced their induction potency. Based on the high I-EQ estimates of many products, biological effects associated with exposure may have been previously underestimated using other diagnostic methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)983-991
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2002


  • Bioassay
  • CYP1A1
  • Luciferase
  • Oil spills
  • PAH
  • Petroleum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Oceanography
  • Pollution


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