Journal Article

Hemoglobin and albumin adducts of benzene oxide among workers exposed to high levels of benzene.

K Yeowell-O'Connell, N Rothman, M T Smith, R B Hayes, G Li, S Waidyanatha, M Dosemeci, L Zhang, S Yin, N Titenko-Holland and S M Rappaport

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 19, issue 9, pages 1565-1571
Published in print January 1998 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online January 1998 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
Hemoglobin and albumin adducts of benzene oxide among workers exposed to high levels of benzene.

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Benzene oxide (BO) reacts with cysteinyl residues in hemoglobin (Hb) and albumin (Alb) to form protein adducts (BO-Hb and BO-Alb), which are presumed to be specific biomarkers of exposure to benzene. We analyzed BO-Hb in 43 exposed workers and 42 unexposed controls, and BO-Alb in a subsample consisting of 19 workers and 19 controls from Shanghai, China, as part of a larger cross-sectional study of benzene biomarkers. The adducts were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry following reaction of the protein with trifluoroacetic anhydride and methanesulfonic acid. When subjects were divided into controls (n = 42) and workers exposed to < or =31 (n = 21) and >31 p.p.m. (n = 22) benzene, median BO-Hb levels were 32.0, 46.7 and 129 pmol/g globin, respectively (correlation with exposure: Spearman r = 0.67, P < 0.0001). To our knowledge, these results represent the first observation in humans that BO-Hb levels are significantly correlated with benzene exposure. Median BO-Alb levels in these 3 groups were 103 (n = 19), 351 (n = 7) and 2010 (n = 12) pmol/g Alb, respectively, also reflecting a significant correlation with exposure (Spearman r = 0.90, P < 0.0001). The blood dose of BO predicted from both Hb and Alb adducts was very similar. These results clearly affirm the use of both Hb and Alb adducts of BO as biomarkers of exposure to high levels of benzene. As part of our investigation of the background levels of BO-Hb and BO-Alb found in unexposed persons, we analyzed recombinant human Hb and Alb for BO adducts. Significant levels of both BO-Hb (19.7 pmol/g) and BO-Alb (41.9 pmol/g) were detected, suggesting that portions of the observed background adducts reflect an artifact of the assay, while other portions are indicative of either unknown exposures or endogenous production of adducts.

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Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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