Lack of formic acid production in rat hepatocytes and human renal proximal tubule cells exposed to chloral hydrate or trichloroacetic acid.

PMID 17161896


The industrial solvent trichloroethylene (TCE) and its major metabolites have been shown to cause formic aciduria in male rats. We have examined whether chloral hydrate (CH) and trichloroacetic acid (TCA), known metabolites of TCE, produce an increase in formic acid in vitro in cultures of rat hepatocytes or human renal proximal tubule cells (HRPTC). The metabolism and cytotoxicity of CH was also examined to establish that the cells were metabolically active and not compromised by toxicity. Rat hepatocytes and HRPTC were cultured in serum-free medium and then treated with 0.3-3mM CH for 3 days or 0.03-3mM CH for 10 days, respectively and formic acid production, metabolism to trichloroethanol (TCE-OH) and TCA and cytotoxicity determined. No increase in formic acid production in rat hepatocytes or HRPTC exposed to CH was observed over and above that due to chemical degradation, neither was formic acid production observed in rat hepatocytes exposed to TCA. HRPTC metabolized CH to TCE-OH and TCA with a 12-fold greater capacity to form TCE-OH versus TCA. Rat hepatocytes exhibited a 1.6-fold and three-fold greater capacity than HRPTC to form TCE-OH and TCA, respectively. CH and TCA were not cytotoxic to rat hepatocytes at concentrations up to 3mM/day for 3 days. With HRPTC, one sample showed no cytotoxicity to CH at concentrations up to 3mM/day for 10 days, while in another cytotoxicity was seen at 1mM/day for 3 days. In summary, increased formic acid production was not observed in rat hepatocytes or HRPTC exposed to TCE metabolites, suggesting that the in vivo response cannot be modelled in vitro. CH was toxic to HRPTC at millimolar concentrations/day over 10 days, while glutathione derived metabolites of TCE were toxic at micromolar concentrations/day over 10 days [Lock, E.A., Reed, C.J., 2006. Trichloroethylene: mechanisms of renal toxicity and renal cancer and relevance to risk assessment. Toxicol. Sci. 19, 313-331] supporting the view that glutathione derived metabolites are likely to be responsible for nephrotoxicity.