Journal Article

<i>In Utero</i> Exposure to Benzene Disrupts Fetal Hematopoietic Progenitor Cell Growth via Reactive Oxygen Species

Helen J. Badham and Louise M. Winn

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 113, issue 1, pages 207-215
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online October 2009 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI:
In Utero Exposure to Benzene Disrupts Fetal Hematopoietic Progenitor Cell Growth via Reactive Oxygen Species

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It is hypothesized that the increasing incidence of childhood leukemia may be due to in utero exposure to environmental pollutants, such as benzene, but the mechanisms involved remain unknown. We hypothesize that reactive oxygen species (ROS) contribute to the deregulation of fetal hematopoiesis caused by in utero benzene exposure. To evaluate this hypothesis, pregnant C57Bl/6N mice were exposed to benzene or polyethylene glycol-conjugated catalase (PEG-catalase) (antioxidative enzyme) and benzene. Colony formation assays on fetal liver cells were performed to measure erythroid and myeloid progenitor cell growth potential. The presence of ROS in CD117+ fetal liver cells was measured by flow cytometric analysis. Oxidative cellular damage was assessed by Western blot analysis of 4-hydroxynonenol (4-HNE) and nitrotyrosine products, as well as reduced to oxidized glutathione ratios. Alterations in the redox-sensitive signaling pathway nuclear factor-kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB) were measured by Western blot analysis of Inhibitor of NF-kB-alpha (IκB-α) protein levels in fetal liver tissue. In utero exposure to benzene caused a significant increase in ROS production and significantly altered fetal liver erythroid and myeloid colony numbers but did not increase the levels of 4-HNE or nitrotyrosine products or alter reduced to oxidized glutathione ratios. However, in utero exposure to benzene did cause a significant decrease in fetal liver IκB-α protein levels, suggesting activation of the NF-κB pathway. Benzene-induced ROS formation, abnormal colony growth, and decreased IκB-α levels were all abrogated by pretreatment with PEG-catalase. These results suggest that ROS play a key role in the development of in utero-initiated benzene toxicity potentially through disruption of hematopoietic cell signaling pathways.

Keywords: benzene; in utero; reactive oxygen species; hematopoietic progenitor cells; NF-κB

Journal Article.  5798 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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