Polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs): Effects of structure on binding to the 2,3,7,8-TCDD cytosolic receptor protein, AHH induction and toxicity

S. Bandiera, T. Sawyer, M. Romkes, B. Zmudzka, L. Safe, G. Mason, B. Keys, S. Safe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


The effects of structure on the activity of 26 polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) as competitive ligands for the 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) rat hepatic cytosolic receptor protein were determined in a dose-response fashion. The ED50 values for these compounds varied 100 000-fold and the most active PCDFs were substituted in the 2,3,7 and 8 lateral positions; the ED50 for the most active PCDF, 2,3,4,7,8-pentachlorodibenzofuran was 1.5 × 10-8 M which was only slightly less active than 2,3,7,8-TCDD (1.0 × 10-8 M). A comparison of the binding affinities of several isomer pairs also indicated the relative importance of chlorine substitution at C-4 (or C-6) compared to C-1 (or C-9). Moreover, for some isomers it is apparent that C-4 (or C-6) substituents are more active than lateral substituents for facilitating ligand binding to the receptor protein. This is illustrated by the relative binding potencies of the following isomer pairs. 1,2,4,5,7-/1,2,4,7,8 = 19.2; 2,6,7-/2,3,8- = 2.2; 1,3,6-/1,3,8- = 19. Most of the PCDF structure-activity effects noted above were also observed for the induction of aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase (AHH) and ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase (EROD) in rat hepatoma H-4-II-E cells in culture. The most active compounds were also substituted in the lateral 2,3,7 and 8 positions and a comparison of C-4 (or C-6) vs. C-1 (or C-9) substituted PCDFFs confirmed the higher induction potencies for most of the former group of compounds. The in vitro quantitative structure-activity data were complemented by in vivo studies which determined the relative activities of selected PCDFs as inducers of hepatic microsomal cytochrome P-448 dependent monooxygenases and their effects on body weight gain and thymus weights in immature male Wistar rats. The results indicated that for 2 series of isomers, namely the 2,3,4,7,8-, 1,2,4,7,8- and 1,2,4,7,9,-pentachlorodibenzofurans and the 2,3,7,8-, 2,3,4,8- and 1,2,4,8,-tetrachlorodibenzofurans, their biologic and toxic potencies were dependent on one major structural factor, the number of lateral chloro substituents. These results support the proposed role of the cytosolic receptor protein in mediating the biologic and toxic effects of the PCDFs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-144
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1984


  • AHH receptor binding
  • Polychlorinated dibenzofurans
  • Structure-activity
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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