A calibrated human PBPK model for benzene inhalation with urinary bladder and bone marrow compartments

Risk Anal. 2013 Jul;33(7):1237-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2012.01927.x. Epub 2012 Dec 24.


A physiologically-based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model of benzene inhalation based on a recent mouse model was adapted to include bone marrow (target organ) and urinary bladder compartments. Empirical data on human liver microsomal protein levels and linked CYP2E1 activities were incorporated into the model, and metabolite-specific conversion rate parameters were estimated by fitting to human biomonitoring data and adjusting for background levels of urinary metabolites. Human studies of benzene levels in blood and breath, and phenol levels in urine were used to validate the rate of human conversion of benzene to benzene oxide, and urinary benzene metabolites from Chinese benzene worker populations provided model validation for rates of human conversion of benzene to muconic acid (MA) and phenylmercapturic acid (PMA), phenol (PH), catechol (CA), hydroquinone (HQ), and benzenetriol (BT). The calibrated human model reveals that while liver microsomal protein and CYP2E1 activities are lower on average in humans compared to mice, the mouse also shows far lower rates of benzene conversion to MA and PMA, and far higher conversion of benzene to BO/PH, and of BO/PH to CA, HQ, and BT. The model also differed substantially from existing human PBPK models with respect to several metabolic rate parameters of importance to interpreting benzene metabolism and health risks in human populations associated with bone marrow doses. The model provides a new methodological paradigm focused on integrating linked human liver metabolism data and calibration using biomonitoring data, thus allowing for model uncertainty analysis and more rigorous validation.

Keywords: Benzene; physiologically-based pharmacokinetic model; urine metabolites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Benzene / administration & dosage*
  • Bone Marrow / metabolism*
  • Calibration
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Urinary Bladder / metabolism*


  • Benzene