Inhaled formaldehyde induces bone marrow toxicity via oxidative stress in exposed mice

Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014;15(13):5253-7. doi: 10.7314/apjcp.2014.15.13.5253.


Formaldehyde (FA) is an economically important chemical, and has been found to cause various types of toxic damage to the body. Formaldehyde-induced toxic damage involves reactive oxygen species (ROS) that trigger subsequent toxic effects and inflammatory responses, which may increase risk of cancer. Therefore, in the present study, we aimed to investigate the possible toxic mechanism in bone marrow caused by formaldehyde. In accordance with the principle of randomization, the mice were divided into four groups of 6 mice per group. One group was exposed to ambient air and the other three groups were exposed to different concentrations of formaldehyde (20, 40, 80 mg/m3) for 15 days in the respective inhalation chambers, 2h a day. At the end of the 15-day experimental period, all mice were killed. Bone marrow cells were obtained. Some of those were used for the determination of blood cell numbers, bone marrow karyote numbers, CFU-F, superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity and malondialdehyde (MDA) content; others were used for the determination of mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP), cell cycle and Bcl-2, Bax, CytC protein expression. WBC and PLT numbers in median and high dose groups were obvious reduced, but there was no change on RBC numbers. There was also reduced numbers of bone marrow karyotes and CFU-F in the high dose group. SOD activity was decreased, but MDA content was increased. MMP and Bcl-2 expression were decreased with increasing formaldehyde concentration, while expression of Bax and Cyt C was increased. We also observed change in cell cycling, and found that there was S phase arrest in the high dose group. Our study suggested that a certain concentration of formaldehyde could have toxic effects on the hematopoietic system, with oxidative stress as a critical effect.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow / drug effects*
  • Bone Marrow / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow Cells / drug effects
  • Bone Marrow Cells / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • Formaldehyde / adverse effects*
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / metabolism
  • Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial / drug effects
  • Metalloendopeptidases / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity
  • S Phase / drug effects
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / metabolism


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • Formaldehyde
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Metalloendopeptidases
  • Glutathione

Supplementary concepts

  • Formaldehyde poisoning