Pulmonary toxicity of styrene is initiated by cytochromes P450-dependent metabolic activation. P450 2E1 and P450 2F2 are considered to be two main cytochrome P450 enzymes responsible for styrene metabolism in mice. The objective of the current study was to determine the correlation between the formation of styrene metabolites (i.e., styrene oxide and 4-vinylphenol) and pulmonary toxicity of styrene, using Cyp2e1- and Cyp2f2-null mouse models. A dramatic decrease in the formation of styrene glycol and 4-vinylphenol was found in Cyp2f2-null mouse lung microsomes relative to that in the wild-type mouse lung microsomes; however, no significant difference in the production of the styrene metabolites was observed between lung microsomes obtained from Cyp2e1-null and the wild-type mice. The knockout and wild-type mice were treated with styrene (6.0 mmol/kg, ip), and cell counts and LDH activity in bronchoalveolar lavage fluids were monitored to evaluate the pulmonary toxicity induced by styrene. Cyp2e1-null mice displayed a susceptibility to lung toxicity of styrene similar to that of the wild-type animals; however, Cyp2f2-null mice were resistant to styrene-induced pulmonary toxicity. In conclusion, both P450 2E1 and P450 2F2 are responsible for the metabolic activation of styrene. The latter enzyme plays an important role in styrene-induced pulmonary toxicity. Both styrene oxide and 4-vinylphenol are suggested to participate in the development of lung injury induced by styrene.
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