Mechanisms of benzene-induced hematotoxicity and leukemogenicity: cDNA microarray analyses using mouse bone marrow tissue

Environ Health Perspect. 2003 Aug;111(11):1411-20. doi: 10.1289/ehp.6164.


Although the mechanisms underlying benzene-induced toxicity and leukemogenicity are not yet fully understood, they are likely to be complicated by various pathways, including those of metabolism, growth factor regulation, oxidative stress, DNA damage, cell cycle regulation, and programmed cell death. With this as a background, we performed cDNA microarray analyses on mouse bone marrow tissue during and after a 2-week benzene exposure by inhalation. Our goal was to clarify the mechanisms underlying the hematotoxicity and leukemogenicity induced by benzene at the level of altered multigene expression. Because a few researchers have postulated that the cell cycle regulation mediated by p53 is a critical event for benzene-induced hematotoxicity, the present study was carried out using p53-knockout (KO) mice and C57BL/6 mice. On the basis of the results of large-scale gene expression studies, we conclude the following: (a) Benzene induces DNA damage in cells at any phase of the cell cycle through myeloperoxidase and in the redox cycle, resulting in p53 expression through Raf-1 and cyclin D-interacting myb-like protein 1. (b) For G1/S cell cycle arrest, the p53-mediated pathway through p21 is involved, as well as the pRb gene-mediated pathway. (c) Alteration of cyclin G1 and Wee-1 kinase genes may be related to the G2/M arrest induced by benzene exposure. (d) DNA repair genes such as Rad50 and Rad51 are markedly downregulated in p53-KO mice. (e) p53-mediated caspase 11 activation, aside from p53-mediated Bax gene induction, may be an important pathway for cellular apoptosis after benzene exposure. Our results strongly suggest that the dysfunction of the p53 gene, possibly caused by strong and repeated genetic and epigenetic effects of benzene on candidate leukemia cells, may induce fatal problems such as those of cell cycle checkpoint, apoptosis, and the DNA repair system, finally resulting in hemopoietic malignancies. Our cDNA microarray data provide valuable information for future investigations of the mechanisms underlying the toxicity and leukemogenicity of benzene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Benzene / administration & dosage
  • Benzene / adverse effects*
  • Bone Marrow / drug effects*
  • DNA Damage / drug effects
  • DNA Damage / genetics
  • DNA Repair / drug effects
  • DNA Repair / genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Genes, p53 / genetics
  • Hematologic Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Hematologic Diseases / genetics
  • Leukemia / chemically induced*
  • Leukemia / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL / genetics
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / methods*


  • Benzene