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Chem Res Toxicol. 2010 Feb 15;23(2):373-8. doi: 10.1021/tx9003598.

Depleted uranium induces neoplastic transformation in human lung epithelial cells.

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Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology, Maine Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, Department of Applied Medical Sciences, University of Southern Maine, 96 Falmouth Street, P.O. Box 9300, Portland, Maine 04104-9300, USA.


Depleted uranium (DU) is commonly used in military armor and munitions, and thus, exposure of soldiers and noncombatants is frequent and widespread. Previous studies have shown that DU has both chemical and radiological toxicity and that the primary route of exposure of DU to humans is through inhalation and ingestion. However, there is limited research information on the potential carcinogenicity of DU in human bronchial cells. Accordingly, we determined the neoplastic transforming ability of particulate DU to human bronchial epithelial cells (BEP2D). We observed the loss of contact inhibition and anchorage independent growth in cells exposed to DU after 24 h. We also characterized these DU-induced transformed cell lines and found that 40% of the cell lines exhibit alterations in plating efficiency and no significant changes in the cytotoxic response to DU. Cytogenetic analyses showed that 53% of the DU-transformed cell lines possess a hypodiploid phenotype. These data indicate that human bronchial cells are transformed by DU and exhibit significant chromosome instability consistent with a neoplastic phenotype.

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