Chemical research in toxicology

Evidence for chemical and cellular reactivities of the formaldehyde releaser bronopol, independent of formaldehyde release.

PMID 22034943


Formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers are widely used preservatives and represent an important group of skin sensitizers. Formaldehyde is very often suspected to be the sensitizing agent of formaldehyde-releasers; however, many reported clinical cases of contact allergy to these molecules such as bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol) indicate negative skin reactions to formaldehyde suggesting a more complex mechanism. The aim of this study was to compare the chemical reactivity and biological activity of formaldehyde with those of two formaldehyde releasers: 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol and 1,3-dimethylol-5,5-dimethylhydantoin. A key step in the sensitization to chemicals is the formation of the hapten-protein antigenic complex via covalent binding between the chemical sensitizer and amino acids in proteins. The chemical reactivity of the three compounds was thus addressed using (13)C NMR analysis of adduct formation upon incubation with a set of nucleophilic amino acids. The biological activity was measured in two in vitro models based on dendritic cells and a monocytic cell line (CD34-DC and THP-1 model) through monitoring of a panel of biomarkers. The results obtained show that 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol produces low amount of free formaldehyde in physiological buffers but that its degradation generates various molecules including 2-bromoethanol. In addition, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol also generates adducts with amino acids, not observed with formaldehyde alone, that could be explained by the reactivity of 2-bromoethanol. In parallel, in a cellular approach using the human monocytic THP-1 cell line, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol activates THP-1 cells at concentrations that are not correlated to simple formaldehyde release. This observation is confirmed in the more physiological model CD34-DC. Moreover, in the THP-1 model, the expression profiles of several biomarkers are specific to 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol. Finally, the use in the cellular model of the pure degradation products identified by NMR reveals the reactivity of bromonitromethane. In contrast, 1,3-dimethylol-5,5-dimethylhydantoin presents chemical and biological reactivities similar to those of formaldehyde. Taken together, these data suggest that 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol is an atypical formaldehyde releaser, releasing low amounts of formaldehyde at physiological conditions but producing multiple degradation products among which 2-bromoethanol and bromonitromethane are potential candidates for explaining the specific allergic reactions to 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol.

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2-Bromo-2-nitro-1,3-propanediol, 98%
Bronopol, PESTANAL®, analytical standard