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Transcriptional profiling of dibenzo[def, p]chrysene-induced spleen atrophy provides mechanistic insights into its immunotoxicity in mutamouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Nikolai L. Chepelev, Alexandra S. Long, Andrew Williams, Byron Kuo, Rémi Gagné, Dean A. Kennedy, David H. Phillips, Volker M. Arlt, Paul A. White, Carole L. Yauk

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-268
Number of pages18
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number1
Early online date24 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


King's Authors


Dibenzo[def, p]chrysene (DBC) is the most carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) examined to date. We investigated the immunotoxicity of DBC, manifested as spleen atrophy, following acute exposure of adult MutaMouse males by oral gavage. Mice were exposed to 0, 2.0, 6.2, or 20.0 mg DBC/kg-bw per day, for 3 days. Genotoxic endpoints (DBC-DNA adducts and lacZ mutant frequency in spleen and bone marrow, and red blood cell micronucleus frequency) and global gene expression changes were measured. All of the genotoxicity measures increased in a dose-dependent manner in spleen and bone marrow. Gene expression analysis showed that DBC activates p53 signaling pathways related to cellular growth and proliferation, which was evident even at the low dose. Strikingly, the expression profiles of DBC exposed mouse spleens were highly inversely correlated with the expression profiles of the only published toxicogenomics dataset of enlarged mouse spleen. This analysis suggested a central role for Bnip3l, a pro-apoptotic protein involved in negative regulation of erythroid maturation. RT-PCR confirmed expression changes in several genes related to apoptosis, iron metabolism, and aryl hydrocarbon receptor signaling that are regulated in the opposite direction during spleen atrophy versus benzo[a]pyrene-mediated splenomegaly. In addition, benchmark dose modeling of toxicogenomics data yielded toxicity estimates that are very close to traditional toxicity endpoints. This work illustrates the power of toxicogenomics to reveal rich mechanistic information for immunotoxic compounds and its ability to provide information that is quantitatively similar to that derived from standard toxicity methods in health risk assessment.

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