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Mutagenesis. 2016 May;31(3):333-40. doi: 10.1093/mutage/gev078. Epub 2016 Feb 4.

Approaches for characterizing threshold dose-response relationships for DNA-damage pathways involved in carcinogenicity in vivo and micronuclei formation in vitro.

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The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2137 , USA
The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2137 , USA.


Assessing the shape of dose-response curves for DNA-damage in cellular systems and for the consequences of DNA damage in intact animals remains a controversial topic. This overview looks at aspects of the pharmacokinetics (PK) and pharmacodynamics (PD) of cellular DNA-damage/repair and their role in defining the shape of dose-response curves using an in vivo example with formaldehyde and in vitro examples for micronuclei (MN) formation with several test compounds. Formaldehyde is both strongly mutagenic and an endogenous metabolite in cells. With increasing inhaled concentrations, there were transitions in gene changes, from activation of selective stress pathway genes at low concentrations, to activation of pathways for cell-cycle control, p53-DNA damage, and stem cell niche pathways at higher exposures. These gene expression changes were more consistent with dose-dependent transitions in the PD responses to formaldehyde in epithelial cells in the intact rat rather than the low-dose linear extrapolation methods currently used for carcinogens. However, more complete PD explanations of non-linear dose response for creation of fixed damage in cells require detailed examination of cellular responses in vitro using measures of DNA damage and repair that are not easily accessible in the intact animal. In the second section of the article, we illustrate an approach from our laboratory that develops fit-for-purpose, in vitro assays and evaluates the PD of DNA damage and repair through studies using prototypical DNA-damaging agents. Examination of a broad range of responses in these cells showed that transcriptional upregulation of cell cycle control and DNA repair pathways only occurred at doses higher than those causing overt damage fixed damage-measured as MN formation. Lower levels of damage appear to be handled by post-translational repair process using pre-existing proteins. In depth evaluation of the PD properties of one such post-translational process (formation of DNA repair centers; DRCs) has indicated that the formation of DRCs and their ability to complete repair before replication are consistent with threshold behaviours for mutagenesis and, by extension, with chemical carcinogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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