Drug residues or contaminants with unwanted adverse effects may include tens of thousands of synthetic or natural substances. Although most of these chemicals are usually present in the food at harmless concentrations, it is a tremendous task to identify those samples that pose a possible health hazard to the consumer. Current monitoring actions involve, in most cases, single-endpoint screening tests that detect only a unique chemical entity or a limited group of related substances. One major challenge in the area of food safety is, therefore, the development of multi-endpoint strategies that could increase the efficiency of high-throughput screening procedures. Here, we used human
cell lines derived from breast epithelium (MCF-7 and T-47D) to explore the potential impact of microarray-based transcriptomic analyses in allowing the simultaneous detection of a large number of different residues or contaminants. Both cell lines yielded characteristic expression profiles upon exposure to representative chemicals that are often found in food products. Interestingly, this pilot study suggests that T-47D cells
respond to treatment with different xenoestrogenic chemicals with distinct expression profiles. Thus, the use of oligonucleotide microarrays may considerably expand the range and improve the specificity of existing reporter bioassays.