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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

A comparison of the in vitro genotoxicity of tri- and hexavalent chromium.

Chromium can be found in the environment in two main valence states: hexavalent (Cr(VI)) and trivalent (Cr(III)). Cr(VI) salts are well known human carcinogens, but the results from in vitro studies are often conflicting. Cr(VI) primarily enters the cells and undergoes metabolic reduction; however, the ultimate product of this reduction, Cr(III) predominates within the cell. In the present work, we compared the effects of tri- and hexavalent chromium on the DNA damage and repair in human lymphocytes using the alkaline single cell gel electrophoresis (comet assay). Potassium dichromate induced DNA damage in the lymphocytes, measured as the increase in comet tail moment. The effect was dose-dependent. Treated cells were able to recover within a 120-min incubation. Cr(III) caused greater DNA migration than Cr(VI). The lymphocytes did not show measurable DNA repair. Vitamin C at 50 microM reduced the extent of DNA migration. This was either due to a decrease in DNA strand breaks and/or alkali labile sites induced by Cr(VI) or to the formation of DNA crosslinks by Cr(VI) in the presence of vitamin C. Vitamin C, however, did not modify the effects of Cr(III). Catalase, an enzyme inactivating hydrogen peroxide, decreased the extent of DNA damage induced by Cr(VI) but not the one induced by Cr(III). Lymphocytes exposed to Cr(VI) and treated with endonuclease III, which recognizes oxidized pyrimidines, displayed greater extent of DNA damage than those not treated with the enzyme. Such an effect was not observed when Cr(III) was tested. The results obtained suggest that reactive oxygen species and hydrogen peroxide may be involved in the formation of DNA lesions by hexavalent chromium. The comet assay did not indicate the involvement of oxidative mechanisms in the DNA-damaging activity of trivalent chromium and we speculate that its binding to cellular ligands may play a role in its genotoxicity.[1]


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