The relative potencies of benzo[a]pyrene and a complex mixture of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) produced as by-products of manufactured gas plant (MGP) residues as inducers of hepatic microsomal ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase (EROD) activity were determined in the B6C3F1 mouse. The ED50 values for the induction response were 78 and 65 mg/kg for benzo[a]pyrene and the MGP-PAH mixture, respectively. Analysis of the MGP-PAH mixture indicated that benzo[a]pyrene and other compounds containing four or more rings and which are known to induce EROD activity were only present as trace components of this mixture. A comparison of the EROD induction potencies of benzo[a]pyrene and the MGP-PAH mixture showed that the mixture was approximately 706 times more potent than expected based on its benzo[a]pyrene content (0.17%). This induced P-450 activity could significantly increase the metabolism of the carcinogenic PAHs and thereby modulate the overall carcinogenicity of the mixture. The apparent synergistic activity of the MGP-PAH mixture was further investigated by comparing the activities of this mixture and benzo[a]pyrene for several other aryl hydrocarbon (Ah) receptor-mediated responses including (i) induction of hepatic CYP1A1 mRNA levels, (ii) transformation of the rat cytosolic Ah receptor to a complex which binds to a dioxin responsive element, (iii) induction of EROD activity and (iv) antiestrogenicity in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells, and (v) inhibition of the splenic plaque-forming cell (PFC) response to both T cell-dependent and independent antigens in B6C3F1 mice. For the EROD and CYP1A1 mRNA induction and cytosolic transformation activities and immunosuppressive effects, the MGP-PAH mixture was approximately 100-900 times more potent as an Ah receptor agonist than expected based on its benzo[a]pyrene content. The synergistic activity was lower (19-fold) for the antiestrogenic response in MCF-7 cells. The reason for the synergistic effects of the MGP-PAH mixture were not due to contamination of the mixture by 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin and related compounds and the results suggest that the enhanced potency of the mixture is due to unknown interactions between the individual PAHs present in the mixture.
- Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons
- Synergistic interactions
ASJC Scopus subject areas