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Chem Biol Interact. 2001 Jun 1;135-136:599-614.

Insights into the toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics of 1,3-butadiene.

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  • 1ToxCon, 5505 Frenchman's Creek Dr., Durham, NC 27713, USA. toxcon@ntrnet.net


1,3 Butadiene (BD) is a colorless gas used in the production of synthetic rubber and plastics. BD is carcinogenic in rats and mice, however, there are striking species differences in cancer potency and spectrum of tumors, with mice being more susceptible to tumor induction than rats. Epidemiology studies suggest an excess incidence of leukemia in workers in the styrene-butadiene rubber industry. Consideration of mechanisms of BD carcinogenicity can provide insights into differences in cancer potency between rodents and serve to elucidate the extent to which BD exposure may cause cancer in humans. Mechanistic research in the areas of biochemical toxicology, molecular biology, molecular dosimetry, and susceptibility factors can impact BD cancer risk assessment for humans. This research has focused on quantitating species differences in the metabolism of BD and BD epoxides, defining molecular lesions produced by BD epoxides, identifying biomarkers for BD exposure to explore metabolic pathways in humans, and determining potential risk factors for sensitive subpopulations. BD is activated by P450 isozymes, including CYP2E1, to at least two genotoxic metabolites, epoxybutene (EB) and diepoxybutane (DEB). Dosimetry data from several laboratories on EB and DEB following inhalation exposure to BD indicate that blood concentrations of EB were four-eight-fold higher in mice compared with rats and that blood concentrations of DEB were 25-100-fold higher in mice than in rats. The higher levels of these two DNA-reactive metabolites in mice compared with rats probably contribute to the species differences in carcinogenic effects of BD between mice and rats. In vitro metabolism studies of BD in rats, mice, and human tissues indicate that there are significant quantitative species differences in the metabolic activation of BD to EB and DEB and the detoxication of EB and DEB. Activation/detoxication ratios calculated using in vitro kinetic constants reveal that ratios in mice were greater than in both rats and humans. In vitro data are consistent with in vivo dosimetry data and cancer potency for rodents, and suggest that humans may be at a decreased risk. Data on mutagenicity and mutational spectra of BD epoxides show mechanistic differences between EB- and DEB-induced mutational events suggesting involvement of DEB in the development of cancer. Concentrations of DEB that are genotoxic in vitro are within the range of concentrations measured in mice in vivo, whereas concentrations of EB that are genotoxic in vitro are ten-100-fold greater than concentrations observed in vivo. Characterization of molecular events indicate that EB-induced genotoxicity is due to point mutations and small deletions, while DEB induces point mutations, small deletions, and large-scale deletions involving many base pairs. The extent to which epoxybutanediol is involved in BD carcinogenesis is not known. Molecular dosimetry studies in rodents and humans have focused on urinary metabolites and DNA and hemoglobin adducts. Data from these studies are consistent with in vivo and in vitro metabolism data providing further support for the differences in metabolic activation and deactivation of BD and BD epoxides across species and the role of DEB in tumor development. Research on potential susceptibility factors points to other P450 isozymes, in addition to CYP2E1, that are involved in both the metabolic activation and mutagenicity of BD. Taken together, mechanistic data on BD toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics provide an integrated insight into critical steps in initiation of cancer, metabolites responsible for cancer, sensitive biomarkers for exposure, and potential risk factors for individual susceptibility. Available evidence suggests that BD is unlikely to be a human carcinogen at the low exposure concentrations currently encountered in the environment or workplace.

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