Genotoxicity assessment of a selected cytostatic drug mixture in human lymphocytes: A study based on concentrations relevant for occupational exposure

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Abstract

Cytostatic drugs are highly cytotoxic agents used in cancer treatment and although their benefit is unquestionable, they have been recognized as hazardous to healthcare professionals in occupational settings. In a working environment, simultaneous exposure to cytostatics may occur creating a higher risk than that of a single substance. Hence, the present study evaluated the combined cyto/genotoxicity of a mixture of selected cytostatics with different mechanisms of action (MoA; 5-fluorouracil, cyclophosphamide and paclitaxel) towards human lymphocytes in vitro at a concentration range relevant for occupational as well as environmental exposure. The results suggest that the selected cytostatic drug mixture is potentially cyto/genotoxic and that it can induce cell and genome damage even at low concentrations. This indicates not only that such mixture may pose a risk to cell and genome integrity, but also that single compound toxicity data are not sufficient for the prediction of toxicity in a complex working environment. The presence of drugs in different amounts and with different MoA suggests the need to study the relationship between the presence of genotoxic components in the mixture and the resulting effects, taking into account the MoA of each component by itself. Therefore, this study provides new data sets necessary for scientifically-based risk assessments of cytostatic drug mixtures in occupational as well as environmental settings.

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