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Journal article Open Access

Mechanistic data indicate that 1,3-butadiene is a human carcinogen

Melnick, Ronald L.; Kohn, Michael C.

A review of the epidemiological and mechanistic data on 1,3-butadiene indicates that this chemical is a human carcinogen for which the mouse is a human carcinogen for which the mouse is an appropriate model for assessing human cancer risk. Butadiene is carcinogenic at multiple organ sites in laboratory animals, including the induction of lymphomas in mice, while epidemiological studies have consistently found associations between occupational exposure to butadiene and increased mortality from lymphatic and hematopoietic cancers. Activated oncogenes and inactivated tumor suppressor genes in butadieneinduced tumors in mice are analogous to genetic alterations frequently observed in human cancers. Butadiene is metabolized to mutagenic and carcinogenic epoxides in all mammalian species studied, including humans. These metabolites form N7-alkylguanine adducts which have been detected in liver DNA of mice exposed to butadiene and in urine of exposed workers. Increases in hprt mutations were observed in lymphocytes from mice exposed to butadiene and in occupationally exposed humans. The mutational spectra for butadiene and its epoxide metabolites at the hprt locus in mouse lymphocytes are similar to the mutational spectrum of ethylene oxide; all of these chemicals exhibit a high percentage of frameshift mutations. Ethylene oxide, an alkylating agent that also forms an N7-alkylguanine adduct, was recently classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a human carcinogen. Based on these data, we suggest that cancer induction by ethylene oxide and butadiene involve similar molecular mechanisms.
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