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

Biomarkers of human exposure to benzene.

Three biomarkers for benzene exposure were developed. The first biomarker, muconic acid in urine, results from the ring opening of a benzene metabolite. A gas chromatography/ mass spectroscopy (GC/MS) assay was developed to measure urinary muconic acid, and the analyte in urine samples from workers occupationally exposed to benzene was determined. Workers exposed to benzene concentrations as low as 4.4 ppm over an 8-h day showed higher urinary muconic acid concentrations than did any control individual (p < .005). The second biomarker, S-phenylcysteine ( SPC) in hemoglobin (Hb), results from the addition of benzene oxide to a cysteine sulfhydryl group. A GC/MS assay was developed to measure SPC in the blood of F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice exposed to benzene by inhalation. The cysteine moiety on rat Hb is at a more accessible site than on Hb of mice or humans, and rats showed considerably higher levels of SPC than did mice. As yet, we have been unable to detect SPC in the globin of humans occupationally exposed to benzene. The third biomarker is SPC in albumin. In humans occupationally exposed to average concentrations of 0, 4.4, 8.4, and 23.1 ppm benzene, 8 h/d, 5 d/wk, SPC increased in the exposed groups linearly, giving a statistically significant slope (p < .001) of 0.044 +/- 0.008 pmol/mg albumin/ppm. The assay for SPC is arduous and often imprecise; assuming these difficulties can be overcome, muconic acid in urine and SPC in albumin may be useful for accurately determining benzene exposure.[1]


  1. Biomarkers of human exposure to benzene. Bechtold, W.E., Henderson, R.F. Journal of toxicology and environmental health. (1993) [Pubmed]
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