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Chem Res Toxicol. 2007 May;20(5):724-33. Epub 2007 Apr 21.

Genotoxic mechanisms of asbestos fibers: role of extranuclear targets.

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  • 1Center for Radiological Research, College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NewYork 10032, USA.


Asbestos fibers are carcinogenic to both humans and experimental animals. The continued discoveries of exposure routes whereby the general public is exposed to asbestos suggest a long-term, low-dose exposure for a large number of people. However, the mechanisms by which asbestos induces malignancy are not entirely understood. In previous studies, we have shown that asbestos is an effective gene and chromosomal mutagen when assayed using the highly sensitive AL mutation assay and that the mutagenicity is mediated by reactive oxygen species. The objective of the present study is to determine the origin of these radical species, particularly reactive nitrogen species, in fiber mutagenesis. Using the radical probe 5',6'-chloromethyl-2',7'-dihydroxyphenoxazine diacetate to trap reactive radical species, we showed that crocidolite increased the levels of oxyradicals in cytoplasts, in the absence of the nucleus, in a dose-dependent manner, which was reduced significantly by cotreatment with the radical scavenger dimethyl sulfoxide. Treatment of enucleated cells with crocidolite asbestos followed by rescue fusion using karyoplasts from control cells resulted in significant mutant induction, indicating that the nuclear-cytoplasmic interaction is necessary for fiber mutagenesis. Using the fluorescent probe 2,3-diaminonaphthotriazole, crocidolite fibers were shown to induce a dose-dependent increase of nitric oxide production, which was suppressed significantly by concurrent treatment with the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, NG-methyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA). Similarly, there was a dose-dependent decrease in the mutation yield induced by crocidolites in the presence of graded doses of L-NMMA. These data showed that extranuclear targets play an essential role in the initiation of oxidative damage that mediates fiber mutagenesis in mammalian cells.

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