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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1992 May;114(1):162-5.

Dichloromethane (methylene chloride): metabolism to formaldehyde and formation of DNA-protein cross-links in B6C3F1 mice and Syrian golden hamsters.

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  • 1Chemical Industry Institute of Technology, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709.


Dichloromethane (DCM) is metabolized via a glutathione transferase (GST)-dependent pathway to formaldehyde (HCHO), a mutagenic compound that could play an important role in the carcinogenic effects of DCM observed in the liver and lungs of B6C3F1 mice at 2000 and 4000 ppm. Syrian hamsters metabolize DCM more slowly than mice via this pathway, and hamsters exposed to 3500 ppm showed no apparent carcinogenic response. The possible formation of DNA-protein cross-links (DPX) from DCM in both species was examined. Male mice and hamsters were pre-exposed for 2 days (6 hr/day) to 4000 ppm of DCM and on the third day were exposed (6 hr) to a decaying concentration (4500 to 2500 ppm) of [14C]DCM. DPX were detected in mouse liver, but not in mouse lung, hamster liver, or hamster lung. The failure to detect DPX in mouse lung does not exclude their possible formation in a subpopulation of lung cells. Metabolic incorporation of 14C derived from [14C]DCM into DNA suggested a higher rate of turnover of some mouse lung cells than of hamster lung cells, but no large difference in the turnover rates of liver cells in the two species under these conditions. These results demonstrate that HCHO derived from DCM can form DNA-protein cross-links in the liver of the B6C3F1 mouse. The formation of DPX is dependent on the activity of the GST pathway, and species such as hamsters and humans having much lower rates of DCM metabolism via this pathway may not generate toxicologically significant concentrations of HCHO and DPX.

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