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Environ Health Perspect. 1975 Jun;11:85-95.

Preliminary studies on the fate of inhaled vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) in rats.


Rats were exposed to vinyl chloride monomer gas (VCM) in a closed recirculating system. The rate at which VCM was removed from the system via metabolism was determined for rats exposed to initial concentrations of VCM ranging from 50 to 1167 ppm. Upon exposure to initial concentrations of 50 to 105 ppm, the rate of metabolism was 8.04 plus or minus 3.40 x 10(-3) min-1. Upon exposure to initial concentrations ranging from 202 to 1167 ppm, the rate constants were less; the mean value being 2.65 plus or minus 1.35 x 10(-3) min-1. Regardless of concentration, the disappearance followed apparent first order kinetics. Pretreatment of rats with pyrazole prior to exposure to initial concentrations of 65 and 1234 ppm VCM caused 71 and 87% reductions in the rate of metabolism. Ethanol caused 96% and 83% reductions in the rate of VCM metabolism by rats exposed to 56 and 97 ppm VCM, respectively. Ethanol was less effective in blocking the rate of metabolism by rats exposed to high concentrations of VCM; 46 and 36% in rats exposed to 1025 and 1034 ppm VCM. In rats exposed to an initial concentration of 65 ppm VCM, SKF-525-A administration caused no inhibition of the rate of VCM metabolism; however, a 19% inhibition was seen in rats exposed to 1038 ppm. The nonprotein sulfhydryl content of the liver (glutathione and cysteine) of rats exposed to VCM concentrations ranging from 50 to 15,000 ppm VCM is reduced without a relationship to dose. With repeated daily exposure the degree of reduction is reduced. Preliminary results indicate that the primary metabolites of VCM react with the nonprotein sulfhydryl. Final metabolic products excreted in the urine appear to be S-(2-hydroxyethyl) cysteine and S-(2-carboxymethyl)cysteine and the respective N-acetyl derivatives. Monochloroacetic acid was identified as another potential metabolite. Considering the results in toto, it is hypothesized that VCM is readily and extensively metabolized. Metabolism via the primary pathway, postulated to involve alcohol dehydrogenase, is swamped by exposures to concentrations exceeding 220 ppm. In rats exposed to concentrations at and exceeding this level, metabolism occurs via a secondary pathway(s), postulated to be epoxidation and/or peroxidation. These results are considered pertinent is assessing the potential hazard at low level exposures to VCM.

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