Urinary mercapturic acid diastereoisomers in rats subchronically exposed to styrene and ethanol

Teresa Coccini, Luciano Maestri, Francesco S. Robustelli Della Cuna, Li Bin, Lucio G. Costa, Luigi Manzo

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Styrene is stereoselectively oxidized by cytochrome P450 to its reactive metabolite, styrene oxide. The (R)- and (S)-enantiomers of styrene oxide can be conjugated with glutathione (GSH) to both (R)- and (S)-diastereoisomers of the specific mercapturic acids, N-acetyl-S-(1-phenyl-2-hydroxyethyl)-L-cysteine (M1) and N-acetyl-S-(2-phenyl-2-hydroxyethyl)-L-cysteine (M2). Several investigations have indicated different toxic potential of the (R)- and (S)-configurations of styrene oxide and its GSH- and N-acetyl-conjugates. In this study the mercapturic acid diastereoisomers were measured in the urine of rats exposed to styrene in combination with ethanol, a good inducer of styrene metabolism. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were given an isocaloric liquid diet containing ethanol (5% w/v) for 3 weeks. Starting from the 2nd week, the animals were also exposed to styrene vapours (300 ppm, 6 h/day, 5 days/week) in a dynamic exposure chamber. Both the (R)- and (S)-diastereoisomers of the M1 and M2 as well as the conventional biomarkers, mandelic acid (MA) and phenylglyoxylic acid (PGA) were measured in urinary samples. Approximately 30 and 25% reduction of the levels of brain non-protein sulfhydryls (NPS) was observed in the animals given styrene and ethanol, respectively, while the combined ethanol and styrene treatment resulted in a 60% decrease. Ethanol consumption also resulted in higher urinary levels of the M1-R, M1-S and M2 metabolites associated with increased M1-R/S ratio and higher urinary MA excretion compared to animals treated with styrene. These results suggest that the urinary mercapturic acid diastereoisomers may be used as a noninvasive tool to examine stereoselective patterns of styrene metabolism in vivo, as well as their alterations caused by ethanol. These compound-specific mercapturic acids may also be valuable indicators of styrene-induced disorders of GSH homeostasis in nonaccessible organs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)736-741
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Toxicology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Biomarkers
  • Ethanol
  • Mercapturic acid diastereoisomers
  • Styrene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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