Cytotoxicity and cell-proliferation induced by the nephrocarcinogen hydroquinone and its nephrotoxic metabolite 2,3,5-(tris-glutathion-S-yl)hydroquinone

Melanie M.C.G. Peters, Thomas W. Jones, Terrence J. Monks, Serrine S. Lau

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Hydroquinone, an intermediate used in the chemical industry and a metabolite of benzene, is a nephrocarcinogen in the 2-year National Toxicology Program bioassay in male Fischer 344 rats. Current evidence suggests that certain chemicals may induce carcinogenesis by a mechanism involving cytotoxicity, followed by sustained regenerative hyperplasia and ultimately tumor formation. Glutathione (GSH) conjugates of a variety of hydroquinones are potent nephrotoxicants, and we now report on the effect of hydroquinone and 2,3,5-(tris-glutathion-S-yl)hydroquinone, on site-selective cytotoxicity and cell proliferation in rat kidney. Male Fischer 344 rats (160-200 g) were treated with hydroquinone (1.8 mmol/kg or 4.5 mmol/kg, p.o.) or 2,3,5-(tris-glutathion-S-yl)hydroquinone (7.5 μmol/kg; 1.2-1.5 μmol/rat, i.v.), and blood urea nitrogen (BUN), urinary γ-glutamyl transpeptidase (γ-GT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), glutathione-S-transferase (GST) and glucose were measured as indices of nephrotoxicity. Hydroquinone (1.8 mmol/kg, p.o.) is nephrotoxic in some rats, but not others, but cell proliferation (BrDU incorporation) in proximal tubular cells of the S3M region correlates with the degree of toxicity in individual rats. At 4.5 mmol/kg, hydroquinone causes significant increases in the urinary excretion of γ-GT, ALP and GST. Pretreatment of rats with acivicin prevents hydroquinone-mediated nephrotoxicity, indicating that toxicity is dependent on the formation of metabolites that require processing by γ-GT. Consistent with this view, 2,3,5-(tris-glutathion-S-yl)hydroquinone, a metabolite of hydroquinone, causes increases in BUN, urinary γ-GT and ALP, all of which are maximal 12 h after administration of 2,3,5-(tris-glutathion-S-yl)hydroquinone. In contrast, the maximal excretion of GST and glucose occurs after 24 h. By 72 h, BUN and glucose concentrations return to control levels, while γ-GT, ALP and GST remain slightly elevated. Examination of kidney slices by light microscopy revealed the presence of tubular necrosis in the S3M segment of the proximal tubule, extending into the medullary rays. Cell proliferation rates in this region were 2.4, 6.9, 15.3 and 14.3% after 12, 24, 48 and 72 h, respectively, compared to 0.8-2.4% in vehicle controls. Together with the metabolic data, the results indicate a role for hydroquinone-thioether metabolites in hydroquinone toxicity and carcinogenicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2393-2401
Number of pages9
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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