Phenylhydroxylamine: Role in aniline-associated splenic oxidative stress and induction of subendocardial necrosis

M Khan, S. M. Green, Ghulam Ansari, Paul J. Boor

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To elucidate the role of N-phenylhydroxylamine (PHA, N-hydroxylated metabolite of aniline) in the selective toxicity of aniline to the spleen, dose-dependent studies were conducted with PHA in rats. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were given four doses each (1 dose/day) of 0.025, 0.05, 0.1, or 0.2 mmol/kg PHA in 0.5 ml of aqueous agar (0.25%) by gavage. The control animals received an equal volume of vehicle only. The animals were euthanized 24 h following the last dose. PHA toxicity in the blood was evident from a dose- dependent increase of methemoglobin. The most affected organ was spleen, which appeared dark and enlarged (splenomegaly) and showed increased spleen- to-body weight ratios, which were 28, 40, 66, and 87% at PHA doses of 0.025, 0.05, 0.1, and 0.2 mmol/kg, respectively. Splenic lipid peroxidation (malondialdehyde content) was higher in all PHA-treated groups, whereas splenic protein oxidation (carbonyl content) increased in only the 0.05, 0.1, and 0.2 mmol/kg groups. The total iron content in the spleen also showed increases of 88, 135, 168, and 209% at PHA doses of 0.025, 0.05, 0.1, and 0.2 mmol/kg, respectively. These biochemical changes were accompanied by a dose- dependent vascular congestion in the spleen, a characteristic feature of aniline toxicity. Although the ratio of organ to body weight increased for both testes and heart at the highest dose, striking morphological changes were observed only in heart. The cardiac lesions consisted of a both acute and resolving multifocal subendocardial necrosis involving predominently the left ventricle. Our results suggest that PHA is a splenotoxin and thus contributes to the toxicity of aniline, while at a high dose, it is also cardiotoxic, perhaps due to anoxia associated with the marked methemoglobinemia. These results further support the involvement of oxidative stress in the splenotoxicity of aniline which may be caused by its reactive metabolite(s) such as PHA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-71
Number of pages8
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1998



  • Aniline
  • Lipid peroxidation
  • Myocardial necrosis
  • Oxidative stress
  • Phenylhydroxylamine
  • Protein oxidation
  • Spleen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology

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