LC-MS/MS Analysis of the Formation and Loss of DNA Adducts in Rats Exposed to Vinyl Acetate Monomer through Inhalation

Chem Res Toxicol. 2021 Mar 15;34(3):793-803. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrestox.0c00404. Epub 2021 Jan 24.


Formation of DNA adducts is a key event during carcinogenesis. DNA adducts, if not repaired properly, can lead to mutations and cancer. DNA adducts have been frequently used as biomarkers to evaluate chemical exposure. Vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) is widely used in the manufacture of various industrial polymers. Previous studies have documented that VAM induced nasal tumors in rodents exposed to high exposure levels of VAM. VAM is metabolized by carboxylesterase to acetaldehyde (AA), which subsequently results in DNA adducts. However, AA is also an endogenous metabolite in living cells, which impedes accurate assessment of the contribution of VAM exposure under the substantial endogenous background. To address this challenge, we exposed rats to stable isotope labeled [13C2]-VAM at 50, 200, and 400 ppm through inhalation for 6 h, followed by DNA adduct analysis in nasal respiratory and olfactory epithelia with highly sensitive mass spectrometry. Our results show that exogenous N2-ethyl-dG adducts were present in all rats exposed to [13C2]-VAM, with over 2-fold higher DNA adducts in nasal respiratory epithelium than olfactory epithelium. Our data also show that N2-ethyl-dG is a more sensitive biomarker to assess VAM exposure than 1,N2-propano-dG adducts. Moreover, a very low amount of exogenous N2-ethyl-dG adducts were detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cell samples of exposed rats, suggesting that only an extremely small percentage of [13C2]-VAM or its metabolite may enter into systemic circulation to potentially damage tissues beyond nasal epithelium. Furthermore, exogenous N2-ethyl-dG DNA adducts undergo rapid repair or spontaneous loss in nasal epithelium of exposed rats. Taken together, the results presented herein provide novel quantitative data and lay the foundation for future studies to improve risk assessment of VAM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Animals
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • DNA Adducts / analysis*
  • DNA Adducts / metabolism
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Vinyl Compounds / administration & dosage
  • Vinyl Compounds / pharmacology*


  • DNA Adducts
  • Vinyl Compounds
  • vinyl acetate