Using urinary biomarkers to elucidate dose-related patterns of human benzene metabolism.

School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, and National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
Carcinogenesis (Impact Factor: 5.27). 05/2006; 27(4):772-81. DOI: 10.1093/carcin/bgi297
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Although the toxicity of benzene has been linked to its metabolism, the dose-related production of metabolites is not well understood in humans, particularly at low levels of exposure. We investigated unmetabolized benzene in urine (UBz) and all major urinary metabolites [phenol (PH), E,E-muconic acid (MA), hydroquinone (HQ) and catechol (CA)] as well as the minor metabolite, S-phenylmercapturic acid (SPMA), in 250 benzene-exposed workers and 139 control workers in Tianjin, China. Median levels of benzene exposure were approximately 1.2 p.p.m. for exposed workers (interquartile range: 0.53-3.34 p.p.m.) and 0.004 p.p.m. for control workers (interquartile range: 0.002-0.007 p.p.m.). (Exposures of control workers to benzene were predicted from levels of benzene in their urine.) Metabolite production was investigated among groups of 30 workers aggregated by their benzene exposures. We found that the urine concentration of each metabolite was consistently elevated when the group's median benzene exposure was at or above the following air concentrations: 0.2 p.p.m. for MA and SPMA, 0.5 p.p.m. for PH and HQ, and 2 p.p.m. for CA. Dose-related production of the four major metabolites and total metabolites (micromol/l/p.p.m. benzene) declined between 2.5 and 26-fold as group median benzene exposures increased between 0.027 and 15.4 p.p.m. Reductions in metabolite production were most pronounced for CA and PH<1 p.p.m., indicating that metabolism favored production of the toxic metabolites, HQ and MA, at low exposures.

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    ABSTRACT: Current levels of occupational exposure to benzene, a genotoxic human carcinogen, in Western countries are reduced by two-three orders of magnitude (from ppm to ppb) as compared to the past. However, as benzene toxicity is strongly dependent on biotransformation and recent evidence underlines a higher efficiency of bio-activation pathways at lower levels of exposure, toxic effects at low doses could be higher than expected, particularly in susceptible individuals. Currently, biological monitoring can allow accurate exposure assessment, relying on sensitive and specific enough biomarkers of internal dose. The availability of similarly reliable biomarkers of early effect or susceptibility could greatly improve the risk assessment process to such an extent that risk could even be assessed at the individual level. As to susceptibility biomarkers, functional genetic polymorphisms of relevant biotransformation enzymes may modulate the risk of adverse effects (NQO1) and the levels of biomarkers of internal dose, in particular S-phenylmercapturic acid (GSTM1, GSTT1, GSTA1). Among biomarkers of early effect, genotoxicity indicators, although sensitive in some cases, are too aspecific for routine use in occupational health surveillance programmes. Currently only the periodical blood cell count seems suitable enough to be applied in the longitudinal monitoring of effects from benzene exposure. Novel biomarkers of early effect are expected from higher collaboration among toxicologists and clinicians, also using advanced "omics" techniques. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Toxicology Letters 10/2014; 231(2). DOI:10.1016/j.toxlet.2014.10.007 · 3.36 Impact Factor
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    Environmental Research 08/2014; 135. DOI:10.1016/j.envres.2014.08.021 · 3.95 Impact Factor

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