Ethyl carbamate induces cell death through its effects on multiple metabolic pathways

Chem Biol Interact. 2017 Nov 1:277:21-32. doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2017.08.008. Epub 2017 Aug 15.


Ethyl carbamate (EC), a multisite carcinogenic chemical causing tumors in various animal species, is probably carcinogenic to humans. However, information about the possible carcinogenic and toxicological effects of EC in humans is quite limited. Because EC is found in many dietary foods (such as fermented foods) and tobacco and its products, and exposure of humans to EC often occurs inevitably, its toxicological effects in humans need to be studied. This study was conducted to understand the metabolomic and transcriptomic changes in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells (HepG2) exposed to 100 mM EC for short term (4 h) and long term (12 h) period, respectively. The results revealed multiple influences of EC on the metabolome and transcriptome of HepG2 cells, which was exposure time-dependent and well correlated with the kinetic changes of cell viability and mortality. EC treatment affected multiple metabolic pathways, inducing oxidative stress, reducing detoxification capacity, depleting energy, decreasing reducing power, disrupting membrane integrity, and damaging DNA and protein. These metabolomic and transcriptomic biomarkers of EC on human cell metabolism identified in this study would facilitate further studies on the risk assessment and the mitigation of dietary EC.

Keywords: DNA damage; Dietary ethyl carbamate; Energy depletion; Membrane integrity; Oxidative stress.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism
  • Cell Death / drug effects*
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / drug effects*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Transcriptome / drug effects
  • Urethane / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Urethane