Genotoxic effects of a sub-acute low-level inhalation exposure to a mixture of carcinogenic chemicals

William W. Au, Jonathan B. Ward, V. M. Sadagopa Ramanujam, Barbara L. Harper, Mary Treinen Moslen, Marvin S. Legator

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    26 Scopus citations


    A study was conducted using a combined testing protocol (CTP), to determine whether short-term biological end-points, singly or in combination, are sufficiently sensitive to identify damage induced by exposure to ambient levels of industrial chemicals. A small-scale inhalation set-up which is both economical and easy to assemble was designed. Mice were exposed to 4 concentrations of a custom-blend mixture of benzene, chloroprene, epichlorohydrin and xylene in a ratio of 2:2:1:2, respectively. The concentrations for benzene, chloroprene and xylene were 0,0.1, 1.0 and 10 ppm each. Concentrations for epichlorohydrin were half those for the other components. Groups of 22 male and 22 female mice were exposed to each concentration of the mixture for 3 and 6 weeks. Selected biological end-points including urine mutagenesis, bone marrow cell aberrations and micronuclei, spleen lymphocyte abberations and liver enzyme induction were monitored. The spleen lymphocyte aberrations and liver enzyme induction were the most sensitive end-points. The lymphocytes showed a significant induction of chromosome aberrations from exposure for 3 weeks to all 3 concentrations of the mixtures. After 6 weeks of exposure, significant induction of aberrations was observed after exposure to low and medium concentrations but not to the high concentration. This lack of response at the high concentration after 6 weeks exposure, appeared to correlate with a significant induction of glutathione S-transferase in the liver. Since this enzyme is known to detoxify 3 of the 4 chemicals in our mixture, it may indicate a detoxification mechanism after enzyme induction. The present study indicates that the CTP is sufficiently sensitive to identify toxicological effects after exposure to ambient levels of a gas mixture.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)103-115
    Number of pages13
    JournalMutation Research/Environmental Mutagenesis and Related Subjects
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Apr 1988


    • Chromosome aberrations
    • Complex mixtures
    • Enzyme induction
    • Inhalation exposure
    • Micronuclei
    • Urine mutagenesis

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Toxicology
    • Genetics


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