Metabolic Activation of Furfuryl Alcohol: Formation of 2-methylfuranyl DNA Adducts in Salmonella Typhimurium Strains Expressing Human Sulfotransferase 1A1 and in FVB/N Mice

Carcinogenesis. 2011 Oct;32(10):1533-9. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgr126. Epub 2011 Jul 5.


Furfuryl alcohol, formed by acid- and heat-induced dehydration from pentoses, is found in many foodstuffs. It induced renal tubule neoplasms in male B6C3F1 mice and nasal neoplasms in male F344/N rats in a study of the National Toxicology Program (NTP). However, furfuryl alcohol was negative in the standard Ames test and in a battery of in vivo mutagenicity tests. Here, we show that furfuryl alcohol is mutagenic in Salmonella typhimurium TA100 engineered for expression of human sulfotransferase (SULT) 1A1. This finding suggests that furfuryl alcohol is converted by intracellular sulfo conjugation to 2-sulfo-oxymethylfuran, an electrophile reacting with DNA. We detected nucleoside adducts of 2'-deoxyadenosine, 2'-deoxyguanosine and 2'-deoxycytidine in porcine liver DNA incubated with freshly prepared 2-sulfo-oxymethylfuran. The main adducts, N(2)-((furan-2-yl)methyl)-2'-deoxyguanosine (N(2)-MFdG) and N(6)-((furan-2-yl)methyl)-2'-deoxyadenosine (N(6)-MFdA) were synthesized. Their structures were verified by NMR and mass spectrometry. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry methods for the quantification of both adducts were devised. N(2)-MFdG and N(6)-MFdA were detected in DNA of furfuryl alcohol-exposed S.typhimurium TA100 expressing SULT1A1 and in DNA of liver, lung and kidney of FVB/N mice that had received ∼390 mg furfuryl alcohol/kg body wt/day via the drinking water for 28 days. In summary, furfuryl alcohol is converted by sulfo conjugation to a mutagen. The detection of N(2)-MFdG and N(6)-MFdA in renal DNA of furfuryl alcohol-treated mice suggests that the neoplasms observed in this tissue in the study of the NTP may have been induced by 2-sulfo-oxymethylfuran.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Anthracenes
  • Arylsulfotransferase / metabolism*
  • Biotransformation
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • DNA Adducts / metabolism*
  • Deoxyadenosines / chemistry
  • Female
  • Furans / administration & dosage
  • Furans / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Mutagenicity Tests
  • Mutagens / toxicity
  • Salmonella typhimurium / drug effects
  • Salmonella typhimurium / enzymology
  • Salmonella typhimurium / genetics*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Swine


  • 9-sulfooxymethylanthracene
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Anthracenes
  • DNA Adducts
  • Deoxyadenosines
  • Furans
  • Mutagens
  • furfuryl alcohol
  • Arylsulfotransferase
  • SULT1A1 protein, human
  • 2'-deoxyadenosine