Formation of covalently bound protein adducts from the cytotoxicant naphthalene in nasal epithelium: Species comparisons

Christina DeStefano-Shields, Dexter Morin, Alan Buckpitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Naphthalene is a volatile hydrocarbon that causes dose-, species-, and cell type-dependent cytotoxicity after acute exposure and hyperplasia/neoplasia after lifetime exposures in rodents. Toxicity depends on metabolic activation, and reactive metabolite binding correlates with tissue and site susceptibility. Objectives: We compared proteins adducted in nasal epithelium from rats and rhesus macaques in vitro. Methods: Adducted proteins recovered from incubations of nasal epithelium and 14C-naphthalene were separated by two-dimensional (2D) gel electrophoresis and imaged to register radioactive proteins. We identified proteins visualized by silver staining on complementary nonradioactive gels by peptide mass mapping. Results: The levels of reactive metabolite binding in incubations of rhesus ethmoturbinates and maxilloturbinates are similar to those in incubations of target tissues, including rat septal/olfactory regions and murine dissected airway incubations. We identified 40 adducted spots from 2D gel separations of rat olfactory epithelial proteins; 22 of these were nonredundant. In monkeys, we identified 19 spots by mass spectrometry, yielding three nonredundant identifications. Structural proteins (actin/tubulin) were prominent targets in both species. Conclusions: In this study we identified potential target proteins that may serve as markers closely associated with toxicity. The large differences in previously reported rates of naphthalene metabolism to water-soluble metabolites in dissected airways from mice and monkeys are not reflected in similar differences in covalent adduct formation in the nose. This raises concerns that downstream metabolic/biochemical events are very similar between the rat, a known target for naphthalene toxicity and tumorigenicity, and the rhesus macaque, a species similar to the human.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)647-652
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Monkey
  • Naphthalene
  • Nasal epithelium
  • Protein adducts
  • Rat
  • Reactive metabolites
  • Species comparisons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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