Light-induced mutagenicity in Salmonella TA102 and genotoxicity/cytotoxicity in human T-cells by 3,3'-dichlorobenzidine: a chemical used in the manufacture of dyes and pigments and in tattoo inks.

PMID 15664269


DCB, 3,3'-dichlorobenzidine, is used primarily as an intermediate in the manufacture of diarylide yellow or azo red pigments for printing ink, textile, paint, and plastics. It is also used in tattoo inks. In this article, we investigate light-induced toxicity of DCB in both bacteria and human Jurkat T-cells. DCB itself is not toxic or mutagenic to Salmonella typhimurium TA102, but is photomutagenic at concentrations as low as 2 microM and phototoxic at concentrations >100 microM when bacteria are exposed to DCB and light at the same time (1.2 J/cm2 of UVA and 2.1 J/cm2 of visible light). Furthermore, DCB is both photocytotoxic and photogenotoxic to human Jurkat T-cells. Under a light irradiation dose of 2.3 J/cm2 of UVA and 4.2 J/cm2 of visible light, it causes the Jurkat T-cells to become nonviable in a DCB dose-dependent manner and the nonviable cells reaches 60% at DCB concentrations higher than 50 microM. At the same time, DNA fragmentation is observed for cells exposed to both DCB and light, determined by single cell gel electrophoresis (alkaline comet assay). As much as 5% (average) DNA fragmentation was observed when exposed to 200 microM DCB and light irradiation. This suggests that DCB can penetrate the cell membrane and enter the cell. Upon light activation, DCB in the cells can cause various cellular damages, leading to nonviable Jurkat T-cells. It appears, the nonviable cells are not caused solely by fragmentation of cellular DNA, but by other damages such as to proteins and cell membranes, or DNA alkylation. Therefore, persons exposed to DCB through environmental contamination or through tattoo piercing using DCB-containing inks must not only concern about its toxicity without exposing to light, but also its phototoxicity.