Dibenzanthracenes and benzochrysenes elicit both genotoxic and nongenotoxic events in rat liver 'stem-like' cells
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) with molecular weight 278 are a group of PAHs that are mostly not covered by the current monitoring programs, despite their relative abundance in environmental samples and possible carcinogenicity. Although benzo[g]chrysene (BgChry) and dibenz[a,h]anthracene (DBahA) have been for a long time studied as genotoxic, tumour-initiating compounds, little is known about the potential turnour-promoting effects of this group of PAHs. In the present study, we investigated their impact on activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), induction of enzymes involved in metabolic activation of PAHs, disruption of cell cycle control in confluent cell population and inhibition of gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC), using the rat liver epithelia] cell line WB-F344 as a model of liver progenitor cells. We found that BgChry was the weakest inducer of the AhR-mediated activity, while relative potencies of benzo[b]chrysene (BbChry) and benzo[c]chrysene (BcChry) were comparable to the previously reported values for dibenzanthracenes. All compounds increased expression of cytochromes P450 1A1 and 1B1, and aldo-keto reductase 1C9. BgChry was found to induce high amounts of DNA adducts, which corresponded with induction of p53 phosphorylation at Ser15, apoptosis and accumulation of cells in S-phase of cell cycle, leading to a decrease in cell numbers. All other compounds were found to stimulate cell proliferation in contact-inhibited WB-F344 cells in a dose-dependent manner. We found that only BgChry, and to a lesser extent also BcChry, inhibited GJIC at high concentrations. Taken together, dibenzanthracenes and benzochrysenes, with exception of BgChry, seem to act primarily through deregulation of cell proliferation in liver epithelial cells. which is related to their relatively high AhR-mediated activity. The disruption of cell cycle control might contribute to their carcinogenic effects, as well as to carcinogenicity of complex environmental mixtures containing high levels of PAHs with molecular weight 278. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.