Formation and persistence of nucleotide alterations in rats exposed whole-body to environmental cigarette smoke

Alberto Izzotti, Maria Bagnasco, Francesco D'Agostini, Cristina Cartiglia, Ronald A. Lubet, Gary J. Kelloff, Silvio De Flora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The assessment of pathological effects produced by environmental tobacco smoke in humans is controversial in epidemiological studies. On the other hand, animal models are poorly sensitive to smoke carcinogenicity. We designed an experimental study assessing the tissue-selective formation and persistence of DNA adducts in smoke-exposed rats. Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed for 6 h per day, 5 days per week, to environmental smoke resulting from a mixture of sidestream and mainstream smoke generated from Kentucky 2R1 reference cigarettes. The total particulate matter was in the range of 73-93 mg/m3. DNA adducts were measured by 32P-post-labelling in rat organs (lung, heart, liver, bladder and testis), tissues (dissected tracheal epithelium) and cells [isolated bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cells]. A time-related increase of 32P-post-labelled DNA modifications was detectable by autoradiography, in the form of massive diagonal radioactive zones and individual spots. Top levels were reached after 4-5 weeks of exposure. The ratio of smoke-induced DNA adducts to the background levels detected in sham-exposed rats was 11.2 in the tracheal epithelium, 10.4 in BAL cells, 7.3 in the heart, 6.3 in the lung, 5.1 in the bladder, 1.9 in the testis and 1.1 in the liver. Appearance of DNA adducts in the lung was also revealed by synchronous fluorescence spectrophotometry. Smoke-related oxidative damage was demonstrated by a significant enhancement of 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine in lung DNA. In parallel, there was a time-related induction of lung microsomal arylhydrocarbon hydroxylase activity, an elevation in cytosolic glutathione S-transferase activity, and a moderate but progressive and significant depletion of reduced glutathione. After discontinuing exposure to environmental cigarette smoke for 1 week, DNA adduct levels significantly dropped in the lung, tracheal epithelium, heart and bladder. The decrease was evident but not statistically significant in BAL cells, and was negligible in the heart. The selective localization and the differential persistence of these promutagenic nucleotide modifications in rat organs, tissues and cells suggest that exposure to environmental cigarette smoke, at least under the high exposure regimens used in experimental studies, may pose a potential risk of developing mutation-related diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1499-1505
Number of pages7
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research

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