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Mutat Res. 2005 Mar;589(2):136-51.

Genetic toxicity and carcinogenicity studies of glutaraldehyde--a review.

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  • 1Errol Zeiger Consulting, 800 Indian Springs Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, USA.


Glutaraldehyde is a high production volume chemical that is highly reactive and has many medical and industrial uses. The majority of human exposures are via inhalation, but the exposure is not widespread. It has been extensively tested for genetic activity in vitro and in vivo, and there is disagreement in the literature with regard to glutaraldehyde's genetic activity. Glutaraldehyde produced DNA damage in bacteria and some cultured mammalian cell systems. In vitro, it was mutagenic in Salmonella and E. coli, produced inconsistent positive responses in mammalian cells, weak and inconsistent responses in chromosome aberration and SCE studies, and did not induce transformation in cultured SHE cells. In vivo, inhalation of glutaraldehyde induced cell proliferation in nasal tissue in rats and mice, but DNA damage and UDS were not induced at these sites in rats. Chromosome aberrations in bone marrow cells were reported in only one of eight studies using rats and mice, micronuclei were not induced in bone marrow cells of mice, and dominant lethal mutations were not induced in mice. Glutaraldehyde did not induce cell transformation in SHE cells in vitro. Bone marrow hyperplasia and low, but statistically significant, levels of leukemia were seen in one chronic drinking water study in rats, but not in a chronic inhalation study in rats or two chronic inhalation studies in mice.

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