Electronic (e-)cigarettes have emerged in recent years as putative alternative to conventional tobacco cigarettes. These products do not contain typical carcinogens that are present in tobacco smoke, due to the lack of combustion. However, besides nicotine, hazards can also arise from other constituents of liquids, such as solvents, flavors, additives and contaminants. In this study, we have analyzed 28 liquids of seven manufacturers purchased in Germany. We confirm the presence of a wide range of flavors to enhance palatability. Although glycerol and propylene glycol were detected in all samples, these solvents had been replaced by ethylene glycol as dominant compound in five products. Ethylene glycol is associated with markedly enhanced toxicological hazards when compared to conventionally used glycerol and propylene glycol. Additional additives, such as coumarin and acetamide, that raise concerns for human health were detected in certain samples. Ten out of 28 products had been declared "free-of-nicotine" by the manufacturer. Among these ten, seven liquids were identified containing nicotine in the range of 0.1-15 µg/ml. This suggests that "carry over" of ingredients may occur during the production of cartridges. We have further analyzed the formation of carbonylic compounds in one widely distributed nicotine-free brand. Significant amounts of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and propionaldehyde were only found at 150 °C by headspace GC-MS analysis. In addition, an enhanced formation of aldehydes was found in defined puff fractions, using an adopted machine smoking protocol. However, this effect was delayed and only observed during the last third of the smoking procedure. In the emissions of these fractions, which represent up to 40 % of total vapor volume, similar levels of formaldehyde were detected when compared to conventional tobacco cigarettes. By contrast, carbonylic compounds were hardly detectable in earlier collected fractions. Our data demonstrate the necessity of standardized machine smoking protocols to reliably address putative risks of e-cigarettes for consumers.
TNF-like weak inducer of apoptosis, TWEAK, is a typical member of the TNF ligand family. Thus, it is initially expressed as a type II transmembrane protein from which a soluble variant can be released by proteolytic processing. In this study, we show that membrane TWEAK is superior to soluble variant of TWEAK (sTWEAK) with respect to the activation of the classical NF-kappaB pathway, whereas both TWEAK variants are potent inducers of TNFR-associated factor-2 depletion, NF-kappaB-inducing kinase accumulation and p100 processing, hallmarks of activation of the noncanonical NF-kappaB pathway. Like other soluble TNF ligands with a poor capability to activate their corresponding receptor, sTWEAK acquires an activity resembling those of the transmembrane ligand by oligomerization or cell surface-immobilization. Blockade of the Fn14 receptor inhibited NF-kappaB signaling irrespective of the TWEAK form used for stimulation, indicating that the differential activities of the two TWEAK variants on classical and noncanonical NF-kappaB signaling is not related to the use of different receptors.
Reconstructed human epidermis (RHE) is used in non-animal testing for hazard analysis and reconstructed human skin (RHS) gains growing interest in preclinical drug development. RHE and RHS have been characterised regarding their barrier function, but knowledge about biotransformation capacity in these constructs and in human skin remains rather poor. However, metabolising enzymes can be highly relevant for the efficacy of topical dermatics as well as genotoxicity and sensitisation. We have compared the esteratic cleavage of the prednisolone diester prednicarbate and the enzyme kinetic parameters (Vmax and S0.5) of the model substrate fluorescein diacetate (FDA) in commercially available RHS and RHE with excised human skin and monolayer cultures of normal and immortalised human keratinocytes and of fibroblasts. Formation of the main metabolite prednisolone and of fluorescein ranked as: RHS~RHE>excised human skin and keratinocytes>fibroblasts, respectively. Because of the aromatic probe, however, Vmax of FDA cleavage did not show a linear relationship with prednicarbate metabolism. In conclusion, RHE and RHS may be useful to quantitatively address esterase activity of human skin in drug development and hazard analysis, although an increased activity compared to native human skin has to be taken into account.
The polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) benzo[a]pyrene (BP) is metabolized into a complex pattern of BP derivatives, among which the ultimate carcinogen (+)-anti-BP-7,8-diol-9,10-epoxide (BPDE) is formed to certain extents. Skin is frequently in contact with PAHs and data on the metabolic capacity of skin tissue toward these compounds are inconclusive. We compared BP metabolism in excised human skin, commercially available in vitro 3D skin models and primary 2D skin cell cultures, and analyzed the metabolically catalyzed occurrence of seven different BP follow-up products by means of liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). All models investigated were competent to metabolize BP, and the metabolic profiles generated by ex vivo human skin and skin models were remarkably similar. Furthermore, the genotoxicity of BP and its derivatives was monitored in these models via comet assays. In a full-thickness skin, equivalent BP-mediated genotoxic stress was generated via keratinocytes. Cultured primary keratinocytes revealed a level of genotoxicity comparable with that of direct exposure to 50-100 nM of BPDE. Our data demonstrate that the metabolic capacity of human skin ex vivo, as well as organotypic human 3D skin models toward BP, is sufficient to cause significant genotoxic stress and thus cutaneous bioactivation may potentially contribute to mutations that ultimately lead to skin cancer.
In Europe, the data requirements for the hazard and exposure characterisation of chemicals are defined according to the REACH regulation and its guidance on information requirements and chemical safety assessment (Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), and its guidance documents; available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:396:0001:0849:EN:PDF ; and at: http://guidance.echa.europa.eu/docs/guidance_document/information_requirements_en.htm ). This is the basis for any related risk assessment. The standard reference for the testing of cosmetic ingredients is the SCCPs Notes of Guidance for the Testing of Cosmetic Ingredients and their Safety Evaluation (The SCCPs Notes of Guidance for the testing of cosmetic ingredients and their safety evaluation (2006); available at: http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_sccp/docs/sccp_o_03j.pdf ), which refers to the OECD guidelines for the testing of chemicals (The OECD Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals as a collection of the most relevant internationally agreed testing methods used by government, industry and independent laboratories to assess the safety of chemical products; available at: http://www.oecd.org/topic/0,2686,en_2649_34377_1_1_1_1_37407,00.html ). According to the cosmetics directive [76/768/EEC], compounds that are classified as mutagenic, carcinogenic or toxic to reproduction are banned for the use in cosmetic products. Since December 2010, the respective labelling is based on the rules of regulation (EC) No. 1272/2008 (Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures, amending and repealing Directives 67/548/EEC and 1999/45/EC, and amending Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006, Official Journal L 353, 31/12/2008, pages 1-1355; available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2008:353:0001:1355:en:PDF ) on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures (CLP). There is no further impact from the CLP regulation on cosmetic products, because regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 on cosmetic products defines its own labelling rules (Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products; available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:342:0059:0209:en:PDF ). Special notification procedures are mandatory for preservatives, colourants and UV-filters where a safety approval from the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) is needed prior to marketing. The risk assessment of nanomaterials in consumer products still poses a significant challenge as highlighted by the example of UV-filters in sunscreens since nanomaterials cannot be classified as a homogenous group of chemicals but still need to be addressed in risk characterisation on a case by case basis.
Environmental and dietary carcinogens such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been intensively studied for decades. Although the genotoxicity of these compounds is well characterized (i.e., formation of bulky PAH-DNA adducts), molecular details on the DNA damage response triggered by PAHs in cells and tissues remain to be clarified. The conversion of hazardous PAHs into carcinogenic intermediates depends on enzyme-catalyzed biotransformation. Certain cytochrome P450-dependent monooxygenases (CYPs) play a pivotal role in PAH metabolism. In particular, CYP1A1 and 1B1 catalyze oxidation of PAHs toward primary epoxide species that can further be converted into multiple follow-up products, both nonenzymatically and enzymatically. Distinct functions between these major CYP enzymes have only been appreciated since transgenic animal models had been derived. Electrophilic PAH metabolites are capable of forming stable DNA adducts or to promote depurination at damaged nucleotide sites. During the following DNA replication cycle, bulky PAH-DNA adducts may be converted into mutations, thereby affecting hot spot sites in regulatory important genes such as Ras, p53, and others. Depending on the degree of DNA distortion and cell cycle progression, PAH-DNA adducts trigger nucleotide excision repair (NER) and various DNA damage responses that might include TP53-dependent apoptosis in certain cell types. In fact, cellular responses to bulky PAH-DNA damage are complex because distinct signaling branches such as ATM/ATR, NER, TP53, but also MAP kinases, interact and cooperate to determine the overall outcome to cellular injuries initiated by PAH-DNA adducts. Further, PAHs and other xenobiotics can also confer DNA damage via an alternative route of metabolic activation, which leads to the generation of PAH semiquinone radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS). One-electron oxidations mediated by peroxidases or other enzymes can result in PAH radical cations that mainly form unstable DNA adducts subjected to depurination. In addition, generation of ROS can also trigger multiple cellular signaling pathways not directly related to mutagenic or cytotoxic effects, including those mediated by NF?B, SAPK/JNK, and p38. In recent years, it became clear that PAHs may also be involved in inflammatory diseases, autoimmune disorders, or atherosclerosis. Further research is under way to better characterize the significance of such newly recognized systemic effects of PAHs and to reconsider risk assessment for human health.
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