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Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Mar;113(3):272-7.

PCB exposure and in vivo CYP1A2 activity among Native Americans.

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University at Albany, School of Public Health, Rensselaer, New York, USA.


Cytochrome P-450 1A2 (CYP1A2) is an enzyme involved in the metabolic activation of some carcinogens and is believed to be induced by xenobiotics. Very few studies, however, have investigated the association between environmental exposures and in vivo CYP1A2 activity in humans. To address this issue, a study was conducted of CYP1A2 activity among Native Americans exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the consumption of fish from the St. Lawrence River. At the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne (in New York and in Ontario and Quebec, Canada), 103 adults were interviewed, and they donated blood for serum PCB analysis and underwent the caffeine breath test (CBT), a safe and noninvasive procedure that uses caffeine as a probe for CYP1A2 activity in vivo. The results supported the findings of other studies that CBT values are higher among smokers and men and lower among women who use oral contraceptives. Despite a relatively low average total PCB body burden in this population, the sum of serum levels for nine mono- or di-ortho-substituted PCB congeners showed positive associations with CBT values (p = 0.052 wet weight and p = 0.029 lipid adjusted), as did toxic equivalent quantities (TEQs; p = 0.091 for wet weight and 0.048 for lipid adjusted). Regarding individual congeners, serum levels of PCB-153, PCB-170, and PCB-180 were significantly correlated with CBT values. The results support the notion that CYP1A2 activity may be a marker of an early biological effect of exposure to PCBs in humans and that the CBT may be a useful tool to monitor such effects.

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