Chloroform is a nongenotoxic-cytotoxic liver and kidney carcinogen and nasal toxicant in some strains and sexes of rodents. Substantial evidence indicates that tumor induction is secondary to events associated with cytolethality and regenerative cell proliferation. Therefore, pathways leading to toxicity, such as metabolic activation, become critical information in mechanism-based risk assessments. The purpose of this study was to determine the degree to which chloroform-induced cytotoxicity is dependent on the cytochromes P450 in general and P450 2E1 in particular. Male B6C3F1, Sv/129 wild-type (Cyp2e1+/+), and Sv/129 CYP2E1 knockout (Cyp2e1-/- or Cyp2e1-null) mice were exposed 6 h/day for 4 consecutive days to 90 ppm chloroform by inhalation. Parallel control and treated groups, excluding Cyp2e1-null mice, also received an i.p. injection (150 mg/kg) of the irreversible cytochrome P450 inhibitor 1-aminobenzotriazole (ABT) twice on the day before exposures began and I h before every exposure. Cells in S- phase were labeled by infusion of BrdU via an implanted osmotic pump for 3.5 days prior to necropsy, and the labeling index was quantified immunohistochemically. B6C3F1 and Sv/129 wild-type mice exposed to chloroform alone had extensive hepatic and renal necrosis with significant regenerative cell proliferation. These animals had minimal toxicity in the nasal turbinates with focal periosteal cell proliferation. Administration of ABT completely protected against the hepatic, renal, and nasal toxic effects of chloroform. Induced pathological changes and regenerative cell proliferation were absent in these target sites in Cyp2e1-/- mice exposed to 90 ppm chloroform. These findings indicate that metabolism is obligatory for the development of chloroform-induced hepatic, renal, and nasal toxicity and that cytochrome P450 2E1 appears to be the only enzyme responsible for this cytotoxic-related metabolic conversion under these exposure conditions.
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