Molecular epidemiological studies in 1,3-butadiene exposed Czech workers: female-male comparisons

Chem Biol Interact. 2007 Mar 20;166(1-3):63-77. doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2006.07.004. Epub 2006 Jul 26.


Results of a recent molecular epidemiological study of 1,3-butadiene (BD) exposed Czech workers, conducted to compare female to male responses, have confirmed and extended the findings of a previously reported males only study (HEI Research Report 116, 2003). The initial study found that urine concentrations of the metabolites 1,2-dihydroxy-4-(acetyl) butane (M1) and 1-dihydroxy-2-(N-acetylcysteinyl)-3-butene (M2) and blood concentrations of the hemoglobin adducts N-[2-hydroxy-3-butenyl] valine (HB-Val) and N-[2,3,4-trihydroxy-butyl] valine (THB-Val) constitute excellent biomarkers of exposure, both being highly correlated with BD exposure levels, and that GST genotypes modulate at least one metabolic pathway, but that irreversible genotoxic effects such as chromosome aberrations and HPRT gene mutations are neither associated with BD exposure levels nor with worker genotypes (GST [glutathione-S-transferase]-M1, GSTT1, CYP2E1 (5' promoter), CYP2E1 (intron 6), EH [epoxide hydrolase] 113, EH139, ADH [alcohol dehydrogenase]2 and ADH3). The no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) for chromosome aberrations and HPRT mutations was 1.794 mg/m(3) (0.812 ppm)--the mean exposure level for the highest exposed worker group in this initial study. The second Czech study, reported here, initiated in 2003, included 26 female control workers, 23 female BD exposed workers, 25 male control workers and 30 male BD exposed workers (some repeats from the first study). Multiple external exposure measurements (10 full 8-h shift measures by personal monitoring per worker) over a 4-month period before biological sample collections showed that BD workplace levels were lower than in the first study. Mean 8-h TWA exposure levels were 0.008 mg/m(3) (0.0035 ppm) and 0.397 mg/m(3) (0.180 ppm) for female controls and exposed, respectively, but with individual single 8-h TWA values up to 9.793 mg/m(3) (4.45 ppm) in the exposed group. Mean male 8-h TWA exposure levels were 0.007 mg/m(3) (0.0032 ppm) and 0.808 mg/m(3) (0.370 ppm) for controls and exposed, respectively; however, the individual single 8-h TWA values up to 12.583 mg/m(3) (5.72 ppm) in the exposed group. While the urine metabolite concentrations for both M1 and M2 were elevated in exposed compared to control females, the differences were not significant, possibly due to the relatively low BD exposure levels. For males, with greater BD exposures, the concentrations of both metabolites were significantly elevated in urine from exposed compared to control workers. As in the first study, urine metabolite excretion patterns in both sexes revealed conjugation to be the minor detoxification pathway (yielding the M2 metabolite) but both M1 and M2 concentration values were lower in males in this second study compared to their concentrations in the first, reflecting the lower external exposures of males in this second study compared to the first. Of note, females showed lower concentrations of both M1 and M2 metabolites in the urine per unit of BD exposure than did males while exhibiting the same M1/(M1+M2) ratio, reflecting the same relative utilization of the hydrolytic (producing M1) and the conjugation (producing M2) detoxification pathways as males. Assays for the N,N-(2,3-dihydroxy-1,4-butadyl) valine (pyr-Val) hemoglobin (Hb) adduct, which is specific for the highly genotoxic 1,2,3,4-diepoxybutane (DEB) metabolite of BD, have been conducted on blood samples from all participants in this second Czech study. Any adduct that may have been present was below the limits of quantitation (LOQ) for this assay for all samples, indicating that production of this important BD metabolite in humans is below levels produced in both mice and rats exposed to as little as 1.0 ppm BD by inhalation (J.A. Swenberg, M.G. Bird, R.J. Lewis, Future directions in butadiene risk assessment, Chem. Biol. Int. (2006), this issue). Results of assays for the HB-Val and THB-Val hemoglobin adducts are pending. HPRT mutations, determined by cloning assays, and multiple measures of chromosome level changes (sister-chromatid exchanges [SCE], aberrations determined by conventional methods and FISH) again showed no associations with BD exposures, confirming the findings of the initial study that these irreversible genotoxic changes do not arise in humans occupationally exposed to low levels of BD. Except for lower production of both urine metabolites in females, no female-male differences in response to BD exposures were detected in this study. As in the initial study, there were no significant genotype associations with the irreversible genotoxic endpoints. However, as in the first, differences in the metabolic detoxification of BD as reflected in relative amounts of the M1 and M2 urinary metabolites were associated with genotypes, this time both GST and EH.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / analogs & derivatives
  • Acetylcysteine / urine
  • Adult
  • Benzene / analysis
  • Butadienes / administration & dosage*
  • Butadienes / adverse effects*
  • Chemical Industry*
  • Chromosome Aberrations / drug effects
  • Czech Republic / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoxanthine Phosphoribosyltransferase / genetics
  • Male
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Sister Chromatid Exchange / drug effects
  • Sister Chromatid Exchange / genetics
  • Styrene / analysis
  • Toluene / analysis
  • Workforce


  • 1,2-dihydroxy-4-(N-acetylcysteinyl)butane
  • Butadienes
  • Hemoglobins
  • 1-hydroxy-2-(N-acetylcysteinyl)-3-butene
  • Toluene
  • Styrene
  • Hypoxanthine Phosphoribosyltransferase
  • Benzene
  • 1,3-butadiene
  • Acetylcysteine