Sustained induction of cytochrome P4501A1 in human hepatoma cells by co-exposure to benzo[a]pyrene and7H-dibenzo[c,g]carbazole underlies the synergistic effects on DNA adduct formation
To gain a deeper insight into the potential interactions between individual aromatic hydrocarbons in a mixture, several benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) and 7H-dibenzo[c,g]carbazole (DBC) binary mixtures were studied. The biological activity of the binary mixtures was investigated in the HepG2 and WB-F344 liver cell lines and the Chinese hamster V79 cell line that stably expresses the human cytochrome P4501A1 (hCYP1A1). In the V79 cells, binary mixtures, in contrast to individual carcinogens, caused a significant decrease in the levels of micronuclei, DNA adducts and gene mutations, but not in cell survival. Similarly, a lower frequency of micronuclei and levels of DNA adducts were found in rat liver WB-F344 cells treated with a binary mixture, regardless of the exposure time. The observed antagonism between B[a]P and DBC may be due to an inhibition of Cyp1a1 expression because cells exposed to B[a]P:DBC showed a decrease in Cyp1a1 mRNA levels. In human liver HepG2 cells exposed to binary mixtures for 2 h, a reduction in micronuclei frequency was also found. However, after a 24 h treatment, synergism between B[a]P and DBC was determined based on DNA adduct formation. Accordingly, the up-regulation of CYP1A1 expression was detected in HepG2 cells exposed to B[a]P:DBC. Our results show significant differences in the response of human and rat cells to B[a]P:DBC mixtures and stress the need to use multiple experimental systems when evaluating the potential risk of environmental pollutants. Our data also indicate that an increased expression of CYP1A1 results in a synergistic effect of B[a]P and DBC in human cells. As humans are exposed to a plethora of noxious chemicals, our results have important implications for human carcinogenesis.