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Toxicol Sci. 2008 Jan;101(1):81-90. Epub 2007 Oct 4.

The role of mitochondrial and oxidative injury in BDE 47 toxicity to human fetal liver hematopoietic stem cells.

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  • 1Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98105, USA.

Abstract

The polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are a group of flame retardants whose residues have markedly increased in the environment and in human tissues during the last decade. Of the various congeners, BDE 47 (2,2',4,4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether) is typically the predominant congener observed in fish and wildlife samples, as well as in human tissues. Several studies indicate in utero transfer of PBDEs during pregnancy with residues accumulating in fetal tissues, and thus the potential for BDE 47-mediated injury in utero is of concern. In this study, we examined the mechanisms of BDE 47-mediated injury to primary human fetal liver hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which comprise a large proportion of fetal hepatic cells and play a key role in hematopoiesis during fetal development. Incubation of fetal liver HSCs with BDE 47 led to a loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and the onset of apoptosis. These effects were observed in the low micromolar range of BDE 47 exposures. At higher concentrations, BDE 47 elicited a loss of viability, which was accompanied by the generation of reactive oxygen species and peroxidation of HSC lipids. Preincubation of fetal liver HSCs with N-acetylcysteine, a glutathione (GSH) precursor, caused an increase in cellular GSH concentrations, restored mitochondrial redox status, and ameliorated the toxicity of BDE 47. BDE 47-mediated cytotoxicity or oxidative injury was not evident at the lower concentrations (< 1microM). Collectively, these data support a role for oxidative stress in the cytotoxicity of BDE 47 and indicate that oxidative stress-associated biomarkers may be useful in assessing the sublethal effects of BDE 47 toxicity in other models. However, the fact that BDE 47 undergoes a concentration-dependent accumulation in other primary cells in media that can underestimate cellular concentrations (W. R. Mundy et al., 2004, Toxicol. Sci. 82, 164-169) suggests that the HSC cell injury observed in our study may be of less relevance to human in utero PBDE exposures.

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