Previous studies showed that 1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP) caused a decrease in hepatic microsomal cytochrome P-450 [D. E. Moody, B. Head, and E. A. Smuckler (1979) J. Environ. Pathol. Toxicol. 3, 177-190; D. E. Moody, G. A. Clawson, C. H. Woo, and E. A. Smuckler (1982) Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 66, 278-279], suggesting that hepatic heme metabolism may be affected by DBCP treatment. This study tested this hypothesis. Various parameters of hepatic heme synthesis were measured at intervals ranging from 0 to 72 hr in male Sprague-Dawley rats given a single oral dose (200 mg/kg) of DBCP. Incorporation of the radiolabeled heme precursor [δ-14C]aminolevulinic acid (14C-ALA) into liver, protein, extracted heme, and subcellular fractions of liver homogenates was significantly decreased to 75, 58, and 81% of controls, respectively, at 24 hr. At 48 and 72 hr after DBCP treatment, the accumulation of 14C-ALA label after 4 hr in liver homogenates and subcellular fractions was significantly increased in comparison to controls. These changes in 14C-ALA uptake were accompanied by decreases in total liver and microsomal heme, but not mitochondrial heme. Decreases were found in the spectral content of two heme proteins, cytochromes P-450 and b5, and the activity of another heme protein, catalase. Heme oxygenase activity increased to 130, 151, 209, and 186% of control values at 12, 24, 48, and 72 hr after DBCP, respectively. A slight, but significant, increase in ALA-synthetase to 112% of controls occurred at 24 hr, and slight, but significant, decreases in ALA-dehydratase to 90 and 80% of control occurred at 12 and 24 hr, respectively. No significant changes in uroporphyrinogen-1-synthetase or ferrochelatase at the time points tested was noted. The porphyrin content of liver was increased to 130% of control, while the serum and urine porphyrin levels were decreased to 30% of the control values at 24 hr. Liver ALA content was not significantly altered through the time period studied, but serum and urine levels were increased at 24 hr to 176 and 130% of the control values, respectively. In conclusion, the decreases in liver heme proteins following a single oral dose of DBCP are accompanied by alterations in heme turnover, particularly a prolonged increase in heme oxygenase activity.
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