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Principal Investigator: Xu, Libin
Institute Receiving Award University Of Washington
Location Seattle, WA
Grant Number R01ES031927
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 10 Sep 2021 to 30 Jun 2026
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Project Summary Benzalkonium chlorides (BACs) are widely used antimicrobials in disinfecting products, medical products, consumer products, and food processing industries, suggesting humans may be exposed chronically and sys- temically to BACs through a variety of routes. Our preliminary study found that close to 50 of 100 random hu- man plasma samples contain detectable levels of BACs, suggesting BACs are indeed absorbed. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to greatly increased use of BAC-containing disinfectants, which is concerning given accumulating evidence in respiratory, developmental, reproductive, and neurological toxicities inflicted by BACs and BAC-induced disruption of cholesterol and lipid homeostasis in rodents. However, there is a lack of knowledge on the metabolism, transport, and biological consequences of BACs in humans. Our goal is to characterize the pathways of metabolism and transport of BACs and their impact on nephrotoxicity of BACs. The potential for nephrotoxicity is supported by previous studies in rats showing that BACs accumulate to the highest level in the kidney after oral intake and our preliminary studies showing that BACs exert potent cytotox- icity in a 3D “kidney-on-a-chip” microphysiological system (MPS). Recently, we reported that BACs are metab- olized by human cytochrome P450 (CYP) isoforms CYP2D6 and CYP4s in vitro. Furthermore, we found that BACs are actively transported by human organic cation transporters (hOCTs). Because CYP2D6, CYP4s, and hOCTs are highly polymorphic with greatly varying protein activities, we hypothesize that toxicities of BACs in kidney are dependent on the activities of BAC-metabolizing and transporting proteins in both liver and kidney. In Aim 1, we will characterize pathways of metabolism and transport of BACs in vitro, including secondary me- tabolism by β-oxidation and glucuronidation and transport by hOCTs, human multidrug and toxin extrusion pro- teins, and P-glycoprotein. In Aim 2, we will evaluate nephrotoxicity induced by BACs in human proximal tubule epithelial cells in 3D integrated liver-kidney “organs-on-chips” MPS. An integrated sterolomics, lipidomics, and transcriptomics approach will be used to systemically assess the toxicity and biological activities of BACs. In Aim 3, we will assess BAC exposure levels and their correlation with lipid and kidney injury biomarkers in hu- mans, as well as the impact of genetic variations on BAC metabolism and disposition. The significance of this project lies in that it will, for the first time, address the knowledge gap in metabolism, transport, and toxicity of BACs in humans. Elucidation of the contribution of reduced activities in CYPs and/or transporters to BAC tox- icity would enable us to identify high-risk human population with genetic variations in these proteins. The gained knowledge could also inform federal agencies on setting more appropriate exposure limitations. The innovation of this project lies in a) a novel example of gene-environment interaction through xenobiotic- processing proteins, b) the use of an integrated liver-kidney MPS to assess the toxicological consequences of xenobiotics, and c) integrated omics for rigorous systems toxicology studies.
Science Code(s)/Area of Science(s) Primary: 13 - Metabolism
Secondary: 03 - Carcinogenesis/Cell Transformation
Publications No publications associated with this grant
Program Officer Danielle Carlin
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