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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1981 Oct;78(10):6251-5.

Metabolism of benzo[a]pyrene by human mammary epithelial cells: toxicity and DNA adduct formation.


Pure cultures of human breast epithelial cells and of fibroblastic cells in early passage provided the opportunity to ask whether either cell type had the capability for metabolizing chemical carcinogens and, if so, was the fate of the metabolic products compatible with chemical carcinogens being a factor in the initiation of breast cancer in women. For this purpose, cells were exposed to benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), and (i) the influence on growth potential and (ii) the extent, type, and persistence of adducts between the metabolites of BaP and DNA were measured. Compared with fibroblasts, inhibition of growth by epithelial cells was 50-100 times more sensitive to BaP. Because of this differential sensitivity, epithelial cells were exposed to 0.4 microM BaP and fibroblasts were exposed to 4.0 microM BaP in the studies of DNA adduct formation. Separation by high-pressure liquid chromatography of adducts between (+/-)-7,8-dihydroxy-9,10-epoxy-7,8,9,10-tetrahydrobenzo[a]pyrene (BaP diol epoxide) and nucleosides from purified DNA revealed that epithelial cells contained modified DNA within 6 hr after adding BaP. Adducts between the 7R anti stereoisomer of BaP diol epoxide and deoxyguanosine predominated at all times. syn BaP diol epoxide adducts with deoxyguanosine and what appeared to be BaP diol epoxide adducts with deoxycytidine were consistently present but at much lower frequency. All three types of BaP diol epoxide--DNA adducts persisted in epithelial cells for 72 hr in BaP-free medium. No adducts were detected in fibroblastic cultures until 96 hr after first exposure to BaP. At this time, the type and extent of BaP diol epoxide--DNA adduct formation was similar to that in epithelial cells exposed to one-tenth the dose of BaP. The type, extent, rate of formation, and persistence of the adducts in human breast epithelial cells was similar to that in cells transformable by exposure to BaP, an indication that they may be targets for chemically induced carcinogenesis.

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