Journal Article

Identification of benzene oxide as a product of benzene metabolism by mouse, rat, and human liver microsomes.

M R Lovern, M J Turner, M Meyer, G L Kedderis, W E Bechtold and P M Schlosser

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 18, issue 9, pages 1695-1700
Published in print January 1997 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online January 1997 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
Identification of benzene oxide as a product of benzene metabolism by mouse, rat, and human liver microsomes.

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Benzene is a ubiquitous environmental pollutant that is known to cause hematotoxicity and leukemia in humans. The initial oxidative metabolite of benzene has long been suspected to be benzene oxide (3,5-cyclohexadiene-1,2-oxide). During in vitro experiments designed to characterize the oxidative metabolism of [14C]benzene, a metabolite was detected by HPLC-radioactivity analysis that did not elute with other known oxidative metabolites. The purpose of our investigation was to prove the hypothesis that this metabolite was benzene oxide. Benzene (1 mM) was incubated with liver microsomes from human donors, male B6C3F1 mice, or male Fischer-344 rats, NADH (1 mM), and NADPH (1 mM) in 0.1 M sodium phosphate buffer (pH 7.4) and then extracted with methylene chloride. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis of incubation extracts for mice, rats, and humans detected a metabolite whose elution time and mass spectrum matched that of synthetic benzene oxide. The elution time of the benzene oxide peak was approximately 4.1 min, while phenol eluted at approximately 8 min. Benzene oxide also coeluted with the HPLC peak of the previously unidentified metabolite. Based on the 14C activity of this peak, the concentration of benzene oxide was determined to be approximately 18 microM, or 7% of total benzene metabolites, after 18 min of incubation of mouse microsomes with 1 mM benzene. The metabolite was not observed in incubations using heat-inactivated microsomes. This is the first demonstration that benzene oxide is a product of hepatic benzene metabolism in vitro. The level of benzene oxide detected suggests that benzene oxide is sufficiently stable to reach significant levels in the blood of mice, rats, and humans and may be translocated to the bone marrow. Therefore benzene oxide should not be excluded as a possible metabolite involved in benzene-induced leukemogenesis.

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Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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