Assessing the impact of As–Cd–Pb metal mixture on cell transformation by two-stage Balb/c 3T3 cell assay

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Human beings are exposed to metals as a consequence of various industrial activities, including glass production, agrochemical production, metallurgy and battery manufacture. New data about the possible mechanisms involved in the carcinogenic activity of these metals are constantly being reported. Exposure to complex mixtures of metals is more likely to occur than exposure to a single metal alone. Among these elements, arsenic, cadmium and lead are ubiquitous air and water pollutants that continue to threaten the quality of public health around the world. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the capability of a mixture of 2 µM NaAsO2, 2 µM CdCl2 and 5 µM Pb(C2H3O2)2·3H2O at relevant epidemiological concentrations to induce cell transformation processes. Transforming potential was determined by a murine two-stage Balb/c 3T3 cell assay. Cell viability, reactive oxygen species (ROS), DNA damage, cell cycle analysis, senescence, generation time and metallothionein expression were also evaluated. The results showed that the metal mixture induced morphological cell transformation only when acting as initiator stimuli of the process. A decrease in cell viability was observed at the promotion stage, a time during which ROS increase, especially when a metal mixture was applied as a promoter stimulant. Changes in DNA damage were not observed throughout the assay; however, we observed G1 cell cycle arrest. The metal mixture, acting as a promoter, is capable of inducing senescence, but metals employed as initiators with 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate as a promoter are capable of causing avoidance of senescence and triggering the transformation potential of the cells.

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