Distinct actions of benzene and its metabolites on nitric oxide production by bone marrow leukocytes

Jeffrey Laskin, N. R. Rao, C. J. Punjabi, Debra Laskin, R. Snyder

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29 Scopus citations


Benzene is a widely used industrial solvent known to cause bone marrow depression, This is associated with increased production of reactive oxygen metabolites and nitric oxide by bone marrow phagocytes, which have been implicated in hematotoxicity. Benzene metabolism to phenolic intermediates appears to be an important factor in bone marrow toxicity, In the present studies, we compared the effects of benzene and several of its metabolites on nitric oxide production by murine bone marrow leukocytes. Bone marrow cells readily produced nitric oxide in response to the inflammatory mediators lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ), Treatment of mice with benzene (800 mg/kg), or its metabolites hydroquinone (100 mg/kg), 1,2,4 -benzenetriol (25 mg/kg), or p-benzoquinone (2 mg/kg), at doses that impair hematopoiesis, sensitized bone marrow leukocytes to produce increased amounts of nitric oxide in response to LPS and IFN-γ. Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF)and macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF) augmented bone marrow leukocyte production of nitric oxide induced by inflammatory mediators, Benzene, as well as its metabolites, markedly increased the sensitivity of the cells to both GM-CSF and M-CSF. Cells from hydroquinone- or 1,2,4-benzenetriol-treated mice were significantly more responsive to the inflammatory cytokines and growth factors than cells isolated from benzene- or p-benzoquinone-treated mice, suggesting that the phenolic metabolites of benzene are important biological reactive intermediates, Because nitric oxide suppresses cell growth and can be metabolized to mutagens and carcinogens, the ability of benzene and its metabolites to modulate its production in the bone marrow may be important in their mechanism of action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-426
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology

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