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Biochem Pharmacol. 1987 Mar 1;36(5):711-6.

Decreased erythrocyte delta-aminolevulinate dehydratase activity after styrene exposure.


delta-Aminolevulinate dehydratase (ALA-D:porphobilinogen synthase, 5-aminolevulinate hydro-lyase, EC activity was depressed markedly in red cells of rats exposed to 0.21 g/m3 styrene, a chemical widely used in commercial products. The depression was not restored in vitro after treatment with dithiothreitol and zinc. Consistent with this finding, radioimmunoassay of the enzyme protein demonstrated reduction in the enzyme concentration by styrene exposure. There was a good correlation between the decrease in enzyme activity and its concentration in the styrene-treated animals, suggesting that the depression of the enzyme activity was essentially due to the reduction in the enzyme content. Decrease in the enzyme content in bone marrow cells to almost the same extent as that in erythrocytes seems to indicate the decreased synthesis of ALA-D in the bone marrow. In vitro studies showed that styrene 7,8-oxide, the major intermediate of styrene metabolism, decreased the activity of purified ALA-D but that styrene, the parent compound itself, had no inhibitory effect. The activity and concentration of erythrocyte ALA-D in workers chronically exposed to styrene were also depressed significantly. These findings indicate that the styrene exposure-mediated decrease of ALA-D activity in erythrocytes was a reflection of reduction in the enzyme protein, which may have been the result of styrene 7,8-oxide action, and they suggest that a similar process may also be involved in the reduction of erythrocyte ALA-D in styrene-exposed workers.

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