Toxicology letters

Fluoranthene enhances p53 expression and decreases mutagenesis induced by benzo[a]pyrene.

PMID 22120587


Fluoranthene (Fla) is the most abundant polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) in diesel particulate extracts. Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) is genotoxic and is a prototype of PAH carcinogens. Fla's toxicity and mutagenicity are minor relative to BaP's. Our data showed that Fla enhanced BaP-induced p53 expression and promoted BaP-induced cell death. In contrast, Fla decreased BaP-induced mutagenesis. Fla had almost no influence on the cell cycle. However, the effect of cotreatment with BaP (1μM) and Fla (10μM) in regulating the cell cycle was greater than that of BaP (2μM) alone. It is known that BaP activates the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), and, in turn, the AhR induces cytochrome P450 (Cyp)1a1 expression. The expression of Cyp1a1 corresponds well with the induction of apoptosis and mutagenesis by BaP. Fla did not activate the AhR or antagonize BaP's induction of AhR activity and Cyp1a1 expression. Therefore, the actions of Fla on BaP's toxicity were independent of the AhR signal and Cyp1a1. In summary, results indicated that Fla directs BaP-treated cells into death rather than mutagenesis, consequently preventing cells from being transformed. The novel cooperation between Fla and BaP provides valuable information for how to increase expression of the p53 tumor suppressor.