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University of California-Davis

Superfund Research Program

Urinary Protein Biomarkers for Assessing the Potential Toxicity of Naphthalene in Humans

Project Leader: Alan R. Buckpitt
Grant Number: P42ES004699
Funding Period: 2010-2015
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Project Summary (2010-2015)

Lung diseases are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in the US population. Exposure to chemicals in air, water and food contributes to these diseases. A number of chemicals undergo bioactivation to produce selective lung injury in rodents. This project focuses on naphthalene (NA) and 1-nitronaphthalene (NN), which are present in Superfund waste sites and which represent a class of environmentally important compounds. Both chemicals undergo metabolism to electrophilic intermediates which become bound covalently to proteins in target cells. Protein binding is a key component of cytotoxicity. Dr. Buckpitt has demonstrated that the proteins targeted are similar in rodents and primate nasal epithelium. This underscores the need to develop biomarkers which are tightly tied to toxicity. His central hypothesis is: the formation of key protein adducts with reactive metabolites of NA/NN in target respiratory tissue is causally related to cytotoxicity; measurement of adducted peptides/proteins in urine and nasal brushings provides a highly sensitive molecular signature of exposure and effect. The research group's work builds on recent findings showing high specific activity adducts in urine of NA-treated mice, and numerous identified protein adducts in lungs and nasal cavity of mice, rats and monkeys. The researchers are utilizing antibodies from Ms. Shirley Gee's research to trap and concentrate adducted peptides from the urine and to evaluate adduct levels in animal model systems. These approaches are being validated for their ability to assess adduct levels following exposures to small amounts of 14C-NA by accelerator mass spectrometry, utilizes mass spectrometry for analysis of adducted peptides, and depends heavily on the proteomics services offered by research support Cores. Overall, these studies are:

  1. yielding fundamental information on how adducted proteins, formed in respiratory tissues, are handled in the whole animal,
  2. exploring concentration-response relationships at environmentally relevant concentrations,
  3. providing methods which can be applied to exposed human populations, which are useful-with modification-for assessing risk of other metabolically activated chemicals and
  4. provides methods which can clarify the importance of genetic polymorphisms in genes responsible for the biodisposition of chemicals like NA and NN.
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