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Environ Mol Mutagen. 1990;15(2):78-82.

Genotoxic effects of five polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in human and rat mammary epithelial cells.

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Department of Pathology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore 21201.


Five polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) of different carcinogenic activities were evaluated for their effects on DNA synthesis (3HTdR labeling index (L.I.] of rat and human mammary epithelial cells (MEC) and for their effects on chromosomes in MEC-mediated sister chromatid exchange (SCE) assays. When compared with DMSO-treated cells, exposures of rat MEC to the two most potent carcinogens (5 micrograms/ml for 24 hr), i.e., 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene (DMBA) and benzo(a)pyrene (B[a]P), resulted in a 45-62% reduction in the L.I. of rat MEC. Another carcinogen, 20-methylcholanthrene (MCA), produced a 35-48% reduction in L.I., while the noncarcinogenic PAHs, 1,2-benzanthracene (BA) and benzo(e)pyrene (B[e]P), showed no effect. Similarly, exposures of human MEC to DMBA and B[a]P resulted in a 50-90% depression in L.I. while BA was significantly less effective (30% reduction). When co-cultivated with Chinese hamster V-79 cells in the presence of PAH, both rat and human MEC can activate and release the active metabolites to induce SCE in V-79 cells. In the rat MEC-mediated assay for all 5 PAHs, the frequencies of SCE per chromosome in DMBA-, B[a]P-, MCA-, BA-, B[e]P-, and DMSO (solvent control)-treated groups were 6, 3, 1.4, 0.7, 0.4, and 0.3, respectively. DMBA was most effective in increasing SCE, while B[e]P was ineffective. In the human MEC-mediated assay, B[a]P was more effective than DMBA in inducing SCE, and the frequencies of SCE per chromosome were 4.5 and 3.6 in B[a]P- and DMBA-treated groups, respectively. Comparing depression of L.I., SCE, and in vivo carcinogenicity for the 5 PAHs, SCE mediated by rat MEC is better correlated with carcinogenicity in rat than L.I. depression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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