In vitro genotoxicity and cytotoxicity of benzalkonium chloride
Benzalkonium chloride (BAC) acts as a preservative in numerous nasal preparations. Possible genotoxic and cytotoxic effects of BAC in human respiratory epithelial BEAS-2B cells should be investigated in vitro. Cell cultures were exposed for 2h to BAC in concentrations ranging from 0.002% to 0.05%. Methyl methanesulfonate served as positive control, PBS as negative control. The tail moment of single-cell gel-electrophoresis (SCGE) was used to assess BAC-induced DNA damage. Cell viability was measured by trypan blue dye exclusion staining. Additionally, the critical micellar concentration (CMC) of BAC in PBS was detected. The tail moment increased dose dependently with the maximum value at 0.02%, and declined for higher concentrations. Nearly all cells died at low BAC concentrations up to 0.01%. Above this concentration cell viability increased. The CMC of BAC in PBS was estimated to be 0.02%. BAC caused relevant DNA changes in respiratory epithelial cells in vitro at concentrations commonly employed in commercially available nasal preparations. Some of the exposed cells survived. In further studies it could be considered to look whether these cells would still be able to proliferate and possibly fix the damage that they have possibly accumulated into an actual mutation using for example the induction of micronuclei.
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