The effects of styrene on lung cells in female mice and rats

Food Chem Toxicol. 2004 Oct;42(10):1655-67. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2004.06.002.


Styrene has been shown to cause an increase in the incidence of lung tumors in CD-1 mice following chronic exposure at 40 and 160 ppm, whereas no treatment-related increase in tumors in any organ was seen in rats chronically exposed to up to 1000 ppm styrene. So far most of the mechanistic studies have been performed with male animals. The aim of the present study was to further elucidate the target cell population in mouse lungs exposed to styrene, and to investigate possible differential in vivo effects (e.g., glutathione depletion, increased lipid peroxidation, and oxidative DNA damage). Groups of female CD-1 mice were exposed to styrene at concentrations of 0, 172 or 688 mg/m3 (0, 40 or 160 ppm) for 6 h per day on 1 day, 5 consecutive days or for 20 days during a 4 week period. Groups of female Crl:CD rats were exposed to styrene at concentrations of 0, 688 or 2150 mg/m3 (0, 160 or 500 ppm) for a single 6 h period or for 6 h per day on 5 consecutive days. No signs of lung toxicity were observed in rats. The cytology of cells in lung lavage fluid provided no signs of an inflammatory response in either rats or mice. In mice, both exposure levels caused decreased CC16 protein concentrations in lung lavage fluid after 1 and 5 exposures and in mouse blood serum throughout the study, suggesting that styrene may cause destruction of Clara cells in mice. Degenerative lesions in mouse Clara cells (vacuolar cell degeneration, cell necrosis) were revealed by electronmicroscopy. After 5 and 20 exposures of mice at 160 ppm, cellular crowding, expressed as an irregular epithelial lining and indicative of a very early hyperplasia was noted. Although a depletion of glutathione was noted in mouse lung homogenates after 20 exposures, there was no evidence of oxidative stress as indicated by unchanged concentrations of 8-OH-deoxyguanosine. Malondialdehyde, an indicator of lipid peroxidation, was slightly increased in mice after 1 exposure at 160 ppm only.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Bronchi / pathology
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid
  • DNA Damage
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Rats
  • Species Specificity
  • Styrene / toxicity*
  • Uteroglobin / metabolism


  • Scgb1a1 protein, mouse
  • Styrene
  • Uteroglobin
  • Glutathione