2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) is highly toxic in experimental animals, and is known to induce cytochrome P450 (CYP) gene expression. We investigated the effect of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 variant genotypes and haplotypes on CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 mRNA expression and ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase (EROD) activity in lymphocytes from 121 subjects from the Seveso population, Italy, accidentally exposed to TCDD in 1976. The 3′UTR 3801T>C and I462V variants of CYP1A1 were present in 16% and 6% of the subjects, respectively. The frequency of CYP1B1 variants was 85.2% for L432V, 49.6% for R48G and A119S, and 28.7% for N453S. There was complete linkage disequilibrium (LD) among the CYP1B1 variant loci (D′ = -1) and high LD among the CYP1A1 loci (D′ = 0.86). Gene expression measured by RT-PCR did not vary by CYP1B1 genotype in uncultured lymphocytes. However, when lymphocytes were treated in vitro with 10 nM TCDD, CYP1B1 and CYP1A1 mRNA expression was strongly induced and modified by CYP variant alleles. Specifically, the CYP1B1*3 haplotype (L432V) was associated with increased CYP1B1 mRNA expression (P = 0.03), following an additive model; the CYP1A1 I462V polymorphism was positively, although not significantly, associated with CYP1A1 expression. The CYP1B1*3 variant may have affected CYP1B1 expression in subjects highly and acutely exposed to dioxin at the time of the accident. Although based on small number of subjects, a slight increase in eczema (P = 0.05, n = 8) and urticaria (P = 0.02, n = 2) was observed 20 years after the accident in subjects carrying the CYP1B1*3 allele. Genetic variation in cytochrome P450 induction may identify subjects with variable responsiveness to TCDD and potentially increased risk of disease.
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