Toxicological sciences : an official journal of the Society of Toxicology

Long-term Coexposure to Hexavalent Chromium and B[a]P Causes Tissue-Specific Differential Biological Effects in Liver and Gastrointestinal Tract of Mice.

PMID 25820237


Complex mixtures of environmental agents often cause mixture-specific health effects that cannot be accounted for by a single mechanism. To study the biological effects of exposure to a mixture of chromium-VI and benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P), often found together in the environment, we exposed mice for 60 days to 0, 55, 550, or 5500 ppb Cr(VI) in drinking water followed by 90 days of coexposure to B[a]P at 0, 1.25, 12.5, or 125 mg/kg/day and examined liver and gastrointestinal (GI) tract for exposure effects. In the liver, the mixture caused more significant histopathology than expected from the sum of effects of the individual components, while in the GI tract, Cr(VI) alone caused significant enterocyte hypertrophy and increases in cell proliferation and DNA damage that were also observed in mice coexposed to B[a]P. Expression of genes involved in drug metabolism, tumor suppression, oxidative stress, and inflammation was altered in mixed exposures relative to control and to singly exposed mice. Drug metabolism and oxidative stress genes were upregulated and tumor suppressor and inflammation genes downregulated in the proximal GI tract, whereas most markers were upregulated in the distal GI tract and downregulated in the liver. Oral exposure to Cr(VI) and B[a]P mixtures appears to have tissue-specific differential consequences in liver and GI tract that cannot be predicted from the effects of each individual toxicant. Tissue specificity may be particularly critical in cases of extended exposure to mixtures of these agents, as may happen in the occupational setting or in areas where drinking water contains elevated levels of Cr(VI).