David R Geter1, Lina W Chang2, Nancy M Hanley1, Matthew K Ross3, Rex A Pegram1, Anthony B DeAngelo1
1National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, US Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711, USA
2National Exposure Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, US Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, OH 45268, USA
3Curriculum in Toxicology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
Background: Epidemiological studies have linked the consumption of chlorinated surface waters to an increased risk of two major causes of human mortality, colorectal and bladder cancer. Trihalomethanes (THMs) are by-products formed when chlorine is used to disinfect drinking water. The purpose of this study was to examine the ability of the THMs, trichloromethane (TCM), bromodichloromethane (BDCM), dibromochloromethane (DBCM), and tribromomethane (TBM), to induce DNA strand breaks (SB) in (1) CCRF-CEM human lymphoblastic leukemia cells, (2) primary rat hepatocytes (PRH) exposed in vitro, and (3) rats exposed by gavage or drinking water.
Methods: DNA SB were measured by the DNA alkaline unwinding assay (DAUA). CCRF-CEM cells were exposed to individual THMs for 2 hr. Half of the cells were immediately analyzed for DNA SB and half were transferred into fresh culture medium and incubated for an additional 22 hr before testing for DNA SB. PRH were exposed to individual THMs for 4 hr then assayed for DNA SB. F344/N rats were exposed to individual THMs for 4 hr, 2 weeks, and to BDCM for 5 wk then tested for DNA SB.
Results: CCRF-CEM cells exposed to 5- or 10-mM brominated THMs for 2 hr produced DNA SB. The order of activity was TBM>DBCM>BDCM; TCM was inactive. Following a 22-hr recovery period, all groups had fewer SB except 10-mM DBCM and 1-mM TBM. CCRF-CEM cells were found to be positive for the GSTT1-1 gene, however no activity was detected. No DNA SB, unassociated with cytotoxicity, were observed in PRH or F344/N rats exposed to individual THMs.
Conclusion: CCRF-CEM cells exposed to the brominated THMs at 5 or 10 mM for 2 hr showed a significant increase in DNA SB when compared to control cells. Additionally, CCRF-CEM cells exposed to DBCM and TBM appeared to have compromised DNA repair capacity as demonstrated by an increased amount of DNA SB at 22 hr following exposure. CCRF-CEM cells were found to be positive for the GSTT1-1 gene, however no activity was detected. No DNA SB were observed in PRH or F344/N rats exposed to individual THMs.