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Chem Biol Interact. 2005 May 30;153-154:117-22. Epub 2005 Apr 19.

Use of OctoChrome fluorescence in situ hybridization to detect specific aneuploidy among all 24 chromosomes in benzene-exposed workers.

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  • 1School of Public Health, 140 Warren Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-7360, USA.


Benzene is an established human leukemogen. The mechanism of benzene-induced leukemogenesis, however, remains unclear, but chromosomal damage is thought to play a critical role. We previously reported that the loss of chromosomes 5 and 7 (monosomy 5 and 7) and the gain of chromosomes 8 and 21 (trisomy 8 and 21) are significantly increased in benzene-exposed workers in comparison to matched controls. To determine if selective effects of benzene can occur, we employed three-color painting on an 8-square slide to screen numerical changes in all 24 human chromosomes (OctoChrome FISH) in a pilot study of 11 subjects (6 exposed to >5 ppm benzene and 5 age- and sex-matched controls). The effects of benzene on each chromosome were assessed as the incidence rate ratio (IRR) from a Poisson regression model with the strongest effects being reflected by the highest IRR values. Monosomy of chromosomes 5, 6, 7 and 10 had the highest IRRs and statistical significance in this preliminary study (IRR>2.5, p<0.01). On the other hand, the monosomy levels of six other chromosomes (1, 4, 9, 11, 22 and Y) were unchanged in the exposed workers with IRRs close to 1.0. Similarly, selective effects were also observed on trisomy induction with chromosomes 8, 9, 17, 21 and 22 (IRR>2.5, p<0.01). These results suggest that benzene has the capability of producing selective effects on certain chromosomes, which is supported by our in vitro findings showing that chromosomes 5 and 7 are more sensitive to loss than other chromosomes following exposure to benzene metabolites. We are currently investigating potential mechanisms for this induction of selective aneuploidy.

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