Praziquantel (PQ) is a commonly used drug to treat patients with schistosomiasis. Previous studies using cells in vitro have shown that PQ can enhance the mutagenic activities of known mutagens. We have conducted a cytogenetic - urine metabolite study to determine the in vivo clastogenic and co-clastogenic potential of PQ with a ubiquitous environmental contaminant, benzene (BZ). 16 groups of adult male ICR mice (5 animals per group) were used. They were negative control, solvent controls (cremophore E1 3%, olive oil and combined), positive control (BZ 440 mg/kg b.w.) and 11 exposed groups. To test for clastogenicity of PQ, mice were treated orally with 100, 400, 800 and 1200 mg/kg b.w. PQ and sacrificed 30 h later for determination of micronuclei (MN) frequency in bone-marrow polychromatic erythrocytes (PCE). None of these PQ doses induced an increase of MN frequency. On the other hand, BZ induced, as expected, a high frequency of MN (46.4 ± 6.34/1000 PCE). The enhancement effect of PQ was tested in 7 groups of mice using 3 different protocols. Mice were treated with 440 mg/kg b.w. BZ and 1 h later with 0, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1200 mg/kg b.w. PZ. In another group, 800 mg/kg PQ was administered at 3 h after BZ exposure. In the last group, PQ (800 mg/kg) was administered at 1 h prior to BZ exposure. Results from the first combined exposure group showed a significant PQ dose-dependent increase in the frequency of MN in PCE (p < 0.05). The increase with the two high doses of praziquantel is significantly higher (p < 0.05) than the MN frequencies in the benzene control and the expected value based on the additive effects of the two agents. Studies with other combined treatment groups showed that the induction of MN was highest when PQ was administered at 1 h before BZ exposure. Moreover, the presence of BZ metabolites (muconic acid, phenol, catechol and hydroquinone) in urine was studied in 6 of the combined treatment groups. This metabolite study revealed that PQ enhanced the metabolism of BZ towards the pathway to form muconaldehyde which is converted to muconic acid in urine. In conclusion, our study showed that PQ is not a clastogen but can enhance the clastogenic activity of BZ in vivo by shifting the metabolic pathways of BZ towards formation of muconaldehyde which may be responsible for the enhancement effect.
- Benzene clastogenicity, mouse
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