Induction of aryl hydrocarbon receptor-mediated and estrogen receptor-mediated activities, and modulation of cell proliferation by dinaphthofurans
A group of heterocyclic aromatic compounds, dinaphthofurans (DNFs), recently have been identified as potentially significant contaminants in freshwater sediments. In the present study, a battery of in vitro assays was used for detection of toxic effects of DNFs that are potentially associated with endocrine disruption and tumor promotion. Dinaphthofurans were found to act as relatively potent inducers of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR)-mediated activity in the chemical-activated luciferase reporter gene expression DR-CALUX assay. The relative AbR-inducing potencies of DNFs were similar or even higher than relative potencies of unsubstituted polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), with dinaphtho[1,2-b;2'3'-d]furan being the most potent AhR agonist. Two compounds, dinaphtho[2,1-b;2'3'-d]furan and dinaphtho[1,2-b;1'2'-d]furan, induced estrogen receptor (ER)-mediated activity in the estrogen receptor-mediated CALUX (the ER-CALUX) assay. Two types of potential tumor-promoting effects of DNFs were investigated, using in vitro bioassays for detection of inhibition of gap-junctional intercellular communication and detection of a release from contact inhibition. Although the acute inhibition of gap-junctional intercellular communication was not observed, all six tested DNFs were able to release rat liver epithelial WB-F344 cells from contact inhibition at concentrations as low as 100 nM. In summary, the present study indicated that DNFs can exert multiple biological effects in vitro, including induction of the AhR-mediated activity, release of cells from contact inhibition, and induction of ER-mediated activity.