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

4-Aminobiphenyl hemoglobin adducts in fetuses exposed to the tobacco smoke carcinogen in utero.

Maternal-fetal exchange of a potent tobacco-related human carcinogen, 4-aminobiphenyl, was studied in smoking (n = 14) and nonsmoking (n = 38) pregnant women. N-Hydroxy-4-aminobiphenyl, the active metabolite of 4-aminobiphenyl, forms chemical addition products (adducts) with hemoglobin. Levels of 4-aminobiphenyl hemoglobin adducts were measured in maternal-fetal paired blood samples obtained from smoking and nonsmoking women during labor and delivery. Carcinogen-hemoglobin adducts were detected in all maternal and fetal blood samples. Levels of such adducts were significantly higher (P less than .001) in maternal and fetal blood samples from smokers: the mean 4-aminobiphenyl hemoglobin adduct level was 92 +/- 54 pg/g of hemoglobin in blood samples from fetuses of smokers, and 17 +/- 13 pg/g of hemoglobin in blood samples from fetuses of nonsmokers; the mean maternal 4-aminobiphenyl hemoglobin adduct level was 183 +/- 108 pg/g of hemoglobin in smokers, and 22 +/- 8 pg/g of hemoglobin in nonsmokers. Fetal carcinogen-adduct levels were consistently lower than maternal levels: the mean maternal to fetal ratio was 2.4 +/- 1.1 in smokers and 1.9 +/- .98 in nonsmokers. Fetal 4-aminobiphenyl hemoglobin adduct levels were strongly associated (correlation coefficient [r2] = .51, P = .002) with maternal 4-aminobiphenyl hemoglobin adduct levels when paired samples from smoking mothers were analyzed. A measure of third-trimester tobacco smoke exposure based on number of cigarettes smoked per day, amount of each cigarette smoked, and depth of inhalation was associated (r2 = .59, P = .029) with maternal 4-aminobiphenyl levels but not with fetal 4-aminobiphenyl levels. This study demonstrates that a potent tobacco-related carcinogen, 4-aminobiphenyl, or its active metabolite, N-hydroxy-4-aminobiphenyl, crosses the human placenta and binds to fetal hemoglobin in concentrations that are significantly higher in smokers than in nonsmokers.[1]


  1. 4-Aminobiphenyl hemoglobin adducts in fetuses exposed to the tobacco smoke carcinogen in utero. Coghlin, J., Gann, P.H., Hammond, S.K., Skipper, P.L., Taghizadeh, K., Paul, M., Tannenbaum, S.R. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. (1991) [Pubmed]
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