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Mol Pharmacol. 2013 Sep;84(3):304-13. doi: 10.1124/mol.113.086637. Epub 2013 Jun 12.

Oral benzo[a]pyrene: understanding pharmacokinetics, detoxication, and consequences--Cyp1 knockout mouse lines as a paradigm.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Health, and the Center for Environmental Genetics, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, P.O. Box 670056, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0056, USA. dan.nebert@uc.edu


Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) is a prototypical polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH); this ubiquitous environmental carcinogenic agent is found in tobacco smoke, charcoal-grilled foods, and PAH-contaminated surfaces of roofs, playgrounds, and highways. Cytochrome P450 1 wild-type, Cyp1a2(-/-), Cyp1b1(-/-), or Cyp1a2/1b1(-/-) knockouts, and mice with Cyp1a1 expression deleted in hepatocytes can ingest large oral BaP doses (125 mg/kg/d) without apparent toxicity. Cyp1a1(-/-) and Cyp1a1/1a2(-/-) knockouts and mice with Cyp1a1 expression deleted in gastrointestinal (GI) tract epithelial cells develop immunotoxicity and die within 32 days, indicating that GI tract inducible CYP1A1 is absolutely required for detoxication of oral BaP. Cyp1a1/1b1(-/-) and Cyp1a1/1a2/1b1(-/-) mice are rescued from immunosuppression and early death due to absent metabolic activation of BaP by CYP1B1 in immune cells. Ten-fold lower oral BaP doses result in adenocarcinoma of the proximal small intestine (PSI) in Cyp1a1(-/-) mice; Cyp1a1/1b1(-/-) double-knockout mice show no PSI cancer but develop squamous cell carcinoma of the preputial gland duct (PGD). BaP-metabolizing CYP1B1 in the PSI and CYP3A59 in the PGD are the most likely candidates to participate in tumor initiation in the epithelial cells of these two tissues; oncogenes and tumor-suppressor genes upregulated and downregulated during tumorigenesis are completely different between these tissues. This "oral BaP Cyp1" mouse paradigm represents a powerful teaching tool, showing that gene-environment interactions depend on route-of-administration: the same oral, but not intraperitoneal, BaP exposure leads to dramatic differences in target-organ toxicity and tumor type as a function of dose and Cyp1 genotype.

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