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Toxicol Lett. 2012 Jan 25;208(2):125-32. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2011.10.016. Epub 2011 Oct 24.

Role of CYP2E1-mediated metabolism in the acute and vestibular toxicities of nineteen nitriles in the mouse.

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Departament de Ciències Fisiològiques II, Universitat de Barcelona, 08907 L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Catalunya, Spain.


Allylnitrile, cis-crotononitrile, and 3,3'-iminodipropionitrile are known to cause vestibular toxicity in rodents, and evidence is available indicating that cis-2-pentenenitrile shares this effect. We evaluated nineteen nitriles for vestibular toxicity in wild type (129S1) and CYP2E1-null mice, including all the above, several neurotoxic nitriles, and structurally similar nitriles. A new acute toxicity test protocol was developed to facilitate evaluation of the vestibular toxicity by a specific behavioral test battery at doses up to sub-lethal levels while using a limited number of animals. A mean number of 8.5±0.3 animals per nitrile, strain and sex was necessary to obtain evidence of vestibular toxicity and optionally an estimation of the lethal dose. For several but not all nitriles, lethal doses significantly increased in CYP2E1-null mice. The protocol revealed the vestibular toxicity of five nitriles, including previously identified ototoxic compounds and one nitrile (trans-crotononitrile) known to have a different profile of neurotoxic effects in the rat. In all five cases, both sexes were affected and no decrease in susceptibility was apparent in CYP2E1-null mice respect to 129S1 mice. Fourteen nitriles caused no vestibular toxicity, including six nitriles tested in CYP2E1-null mice at doses significantly larger than the maximal doses that can be tested in wild type animals. We conclude that only a subset of low molecular weight nitriles is toxic to the vestibular system, that species-dependent differences exist in this vestibular toxicity, and that CYP2E1-mediated metabolism is not involved in this effect of nitriles although it has a role in the acute lethality of some of these compounds.

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