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Carcinogenesis. 1995 Mar;16(3):547-54.

Urinary excretion of mutagens in coke oven workers.

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Institute of Occupational Health, University of Padova, Italy.


The influence of occupational exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on urinary mutagenic activity was assessed in 75 coke oven workers, using a highly sensitive bacterial mutagen technique (extraction with C18 resin and liquid micro-preincubation test on strain TA98 of Salmonella typhimurium in the presence of metabolizing and deconjugating enzymes). Exposure to PAHs was assessed according to the urinary excretion of 1-pyrenol; the main confounding factors were checked by the number of cigarettes smoked per day and the levels of nicotine and its metabolites in urine, or by ascertaining whether recommended dietary restrictions had been followed. Of the 20 urine samples which turned out to be positive (producing at least double the number of spontaneous revertants), 19 (95%) belonged to smokers. Only one non-smoker had obvious urinary mutagenic activity, and was highly exposed occupationally to PAHs (urinary 1-pyrenol of 3.930 mumol/mol of creatinine). Of the five urine samples from subjects who had not followed the recommended diet, two (40%) were clearly mutagenic. Multiple regression analysis (n = 67) showed that the presence of samples positive for urinary mutagenic activity depended only on smoking habits, if this confounding factor was assessed according to the number of cigarettes smoked per day, while the significant influence of exposure to PAH could be shown when the confounding factor was objectively estimated according to the urinary levels of nicotine and its metabolites. Assessment of the mutagenic potency of urinary extracts (net revertants/mmol creatinine) confirmed the strong influence of smoking habits on urinary mutagenic activity (all smokers 2156 +/- 2691 versus non-smokers 939 +/- 947 net revertants/mmol creatinine; Mann-Whitney test: P < 0.01). In smokers highly exposed to PAHs, greater excretion of mutagens with respect to low-exposure smokers was revealed (3548 +/- 4009 versus 1552 +/- 1227 net revertants/mmol creatinine; Mann-Whitney test: P < 0.01). Multiple regression analysis showed that the mutagenic potency of urinary extracts of coke oven workers depended on exposure to PAHs, tobacco smoking habits, and consumption of fried, grilled or barbecued meat. Increased urinary mutagenic activity strengthens epidemiological evidence of the increased risk of renal and urinary tract tumours in these workers. The presence of mutagenic metabolites in urine as a result of occupational exposure to PAH may be demonstrated only by using highly sensitive techniques for assessing urinary mutagenic activity in studies which include careful checking of the main confounding factors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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