Chemico-biological interactions

Microsomal metabolism of picene.

PMID 3396119


Picene, a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) of environmental relevance has recently been predicted to be carcinogenic, based on quantum mechanical calculation, although in several animal studies no carcinogenicity could be detected. In order to find out if the metabolism of this PAH can provide an explanation for its lack of carcinogenicity, picene was incubated with the hepatic microsomal fraction of Sprague-Dawley rats, which had been pretreated with Aroclor 1254. Sixteen ethyl acetate-extractable metabolites could be separated by reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. Comparison of the chromatographic behavior and the UV and mass spectral properties of the metabolites with those of synthetic derivatives of picene allowed the identification of trans-1,2-, -3,4-, -5,6-dihydrodiol as well as 2- and 4-phenol as microsomal metabolites of picene. At a substrate concentration of 2.7 microM and an amount of 68 micrograms microsomal protein per ml incubation volume, 4-picenol was the main microsomal metabolite with 32.2% of total metabolic conversion, followed by the 1,2-(bay-region)dihydrodiol with 16.7%, the 3,4-(M-region)dihydrodiol with 15.9%, 2-picenol with 9.1% and the 5,6-(K-region)dihydrodiol with 1.6%. In this respect the metabolism of picene is not significantly different from that of the carcinogenic PAH benzo[a]pyrene and dibenz[a,h]anthracene. The M-region dihydrodiols, potential precursors of electrophilically reactive dihydrodiol bay-region epoxides, are formed from all three PAHs at 11-16% of total metabolic conversion. From the 2.8- to 4.4-fold lower amounts of polar and water-soluble metabolites of picene as compared to dibenz[a,h]anthracene and benzo[a]pyrene it is deduced that dihydrodiol epoxides are generated from picene to a much smaller extent than from the two carcinogenic PAHs. The lacking carcinogenicity of picene could therefore result from the inability of microsomal enzymes to transform its M-region dihydrodiol to dihydrodiol bay-region epoxides in amounts necessary to initiate carcinogenesis.