Journal Article

Local metabolism in lung airways increases the uncertainty of pyrene as a biomarker of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure.

P Gerde, B A Muggenburg, G G Scott, J L Lewis, K H Pyon and A R Dahl

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 19, issue 3, pages 493-500
Published in print March 1998 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online March 1998 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
Local metabolism in lung airways increases the uncertainty of pyrene as a biomarker of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure.

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While inhaled polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons have long been suspected to induce lung cancer in humans, their dosimetry has not been fully elucidated. A key question is whether the critical exposure occurs during absorption in the lungs, or if toxicants in the systemic circulation contribute significantly to lung cancer risk. In particular, data are needed to determine how the physical properties of inhalants affect local dosimetry in the respiratory tract. Pyrene, a tobacco smoke component, was selected for study because it has physical properties between those of highly lipophilic benzo[a]pyrene and water-soluble nitrosamines. Aliquots of 5 ng of pyrene dissolved in a phospholipid/ saline suspension were instilled as a single-spray bolus in the posterior trachea of the dog just anterior to the carina. For 3 h after instillation, blood was repeatedly sampled from the azygous vein, which drains the mucosa around the point of instillation, and from both sides of the systemic circulation. At 3 h post-instillation, tissue samples were taken. Autoradiography was used to determine the depth distribution of pyrene in the tracheal mucosa. The concentration of pyrene-equivalent radioactivity in the azygous vein peaked 9 min after the instillation. At approximately 30 min after instillation, a rapid early clearance phase shifted into a distinctly slower second clearance phase. Rates of rapid clearance were, however, sufficiently slow to indicate diffusion-limited absorption of pyrene in the trachea. This finding was corroborated by high concentrations of pyrene in the epithelium as determined by autoradiography. High epithelial concentration of pyrene combined with a slow penetration into the circulating blood allowed substantial first-pass metabolic conversion of pyrene in the tracheal mucosa. A total of 13% of the instilled pyrene was retained in the tracheal mucosa 3.2 h after instillation; of this, 29% was parent compound, 52% was organic-extractable metabolites, 14% was water-soluble metabolites and 6% (approximately 1% of the instilled amount) was covalently bound to tracheal tissues. Results support the inference that lipophilic protoxicants, because of slow, diffusion-limited absorption, are more likely than water-soluble protoxicants to be bioactivated in the lining epithelium and, in turn, induce first-pass toxicity at the site of entry. In addition, limitations were identified in the use of systemically distributed biomarkers of PAHs, such as urinary hydroxypyrene levels, as indicators of the biologically effective dose in airway target cells.

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Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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