Mutation research

Genotoxicity of alkene epoxides in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells and HL60 leukaemia cells evaluated with the comet assay.

PMID 22285587


Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) exert their carcinogenic activity through the production of epoxide metabolites. Because of their high reactivity some epoxides are also produced in the chemical industry for the synthesis of other compounds. Therefore, human exposure to VOCs epoxides does occur and may be an important human health concern. In this study, the in vitro genotoxic potential of epoxides originating from 1,3-butadiene (3,4-epoxy-1-butene: EB; 1,2:3,4-diepoxybutane: DEB), isoprene (3,4-epoxy-2-methyl-1-butene: IO), styrene (styrene-7,8-oxide: SO), propylene (propylene oxide: PO) and 1-butene (1,2-epoxy-butane: BO) in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and promyelocytic leukaemia cells (HL60) was measured with the comet assay (single-cell gel electrophoresis, SCGE). The effect of inclusion of foetal calf serum (FCS, 5%) in the cell-culture medium and different durations of exposure (2h, 24h) were also investigated. All epoxides tested produced DNA damage in a concentration range that did not reduce cell viability. HL60 cells were more resistant than PBMCs to the DNA damage induced by the different epoxides. With the exception of IO, the treatment for 24h resulted in an increase of DNA damage. FCS slightly protected PBMCs from the genotoxic effects induced by IO and BO, whilst no such effect was noted for the other compounds. Overall, the dose-dependent effects that were seen allowed us to define a genotoxicity scale for the different epoxides as follows: SO>EB>DEB>IO>PO>BO, which is in partial agreement with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classification of the carcinogenic hazards.