The lymphocyte cytokinesis block micronucleus test in human populations occupationally exposed to vinyl chloride: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Claudia Bolognesi, Marco Bruzzone, Marcello Ceppi, Micheline Kirsch-Volders

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Vinyl chloride (VC) is widely used in industry in the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is used to manufacture a large variety of materials. VC was classified as a known (Group 1) human carcinogen by IARC on the basis of increased risk for liver angiosarcoma and hepatocellular cancer, and the carcinogenicity of VC was shown to be mediated by a genotoxic mechanism. Following inhalation, the compound is rapidly absorbed and metabolized in the liver to the electrophilic metabolites chloroethylene-oxide and chloroacetaldehyde, which form DNA adducts that can be processed into point mutations in cancer-related genes detected in humans and rats exposed to VC. A number of genotoxicity biomarkers were applied in workers exposed to VC to detect early biological responses associated with the carcinogenesis process. The present systematic review analyzed the published studies in which the cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay in peripheral lymphocytes (L-CBMN) was applied in VC-exposed subjects. Thirteen out of fifteen retrieved studies performed in China showed increased MN frequencies (FR 1.92–3.98) associated with increased cumulative exposure or employment time. Twofold and more than threefold increases were detected in PVC-exposed workers exposed to a mean of 50 ppm of VC in the former Yugoslavia and in South India, respectively. The meta-analysis of MN frequency from six eligible studies confirmed this tendency (pooled MR 2.32 – 95% CI 1.64–3.27). The benchmark dose lower limit for 10% excess risk (BMDL 10) calculated from three studies resulted in an estimated exposure limit of 0.03–0.07 mg/m3. Overall the results of this review showed the need for further studies, especially because PVC products from China may contain high levels of uncoupled VCM that could represent a source of exposure to workers and consumers. Moreover, the results underline the importance of re-evaluating the recommended exposure limits using new biomonitoring methods in addition to MN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalMutation Research - Reviews in Mutation Research
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Biomonitoring
  • Carcinogenicity
  • Genotoxicity
  • Lymphocyte cytokinesis-block micronucleus
  • Systematic review
  • Vinyl chloride

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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