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Monday, 01. January 1996 /

New Fish Cell Line for Ecotoxicological Screening

Project title:

New Fish Cell Line for Ecotoxicological Screening  

Project leader:

Karl Fent  

Financial support:    
Project background:

Up until today industries use the so-called “Golden orfe test” or “fish test” to assess the toxicity of wastewater that is being discharged into public bodies of water. By law, no toxic water may be introduced into the water so the wastewater is first being bypassed into tanks containing orfes.  

Yearly about 40’000 to 50’000 fish were sacrificed for this procedure in Germany alone. In 2011 18’500 orfes were killed in Switzerland. Therefore, the objective of the project led by Karl Fent was to establish a permanent cell line which can be used for toxicological screening of wastewater instead of orfes.    




Jung D., Klaus T., Fent K. (2001): Cytochrome P450 Introduction by Nitrated Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, Azaarenes, and Binary Mixtures in Fish Heptoma Cell Line PLHC-1. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 20: 149-159.      


Since the 1st of January 2005, it is forbidden to use fish for eco-toxicological experiments in Germany. In Switzerland there are now several approved alternative methods but fish are still being used. However, since the approval of the alternative methods in 2013, the number of fish has significantly dropped from approximately 18’500 in 2011 to 2’200 in 2013.  

The PLHC-1 cell line developed by Karl Fent and his colleagues can today be purchased commercially and used in an in vitro system to screen environmentally relevant stressors such as heavy metals.