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Inhalation studies were conducted on the hazardous air pollutants, carbon disulfide, which targets the central nervous system (spinal cord) and peripheral nervous system (distal portions of long myelinated axons), and carbonyl sulfide, which targets the central nervous system (brain). The objectives were to investigate the neurotoxicity of these compounds by a comprehensive evaluation of function, structure, and mechanisms of disease. Through interdisciplinary research, the major finding in the carbon disulfide inhalation studies was that carbon disulfide produced intra- and intermolecular protein cross-linking in vivo. The observation of dose-dependent covalent cross-linking in neurofilament proteins prior to the onset of lesions is consistent with this process contributing to the development of the neurofilamentous axonal swellings characteristic of carbon disulfide neurotoxicity. Of significance is that valine-lysine thiourea cross-linking on rat globin and lysine-lysine thiourea cross-linking on erythrocyte spectrin reflect cross-linking events occurring within the axon and could potentially serve as biomarkers of carbon disulfide exposure and effect. In the carbonyl sulfide studies, using magnetic resonance microscopy (MRM), we determined that carbonyl sulfide targets the auditory pathway in the brain. MRM allowed the examination of 200 brain slices and made it possible to identify the most vulnerable sites of neurotoxicity, which would have been missed in our traditional neuropathology evaluations. Electrophysiological studies were focused on the auditory system and demonstrated decreases in auditory brain stem evoked responses. Similarly, mechanistic studies focused on evaluating cytochrome oxidase activity in the posterior colliculus and parietal cortex. A decrease in cytochrome oxidase activity was considered to be a contributing factor to the pathogenesis of carbonyl sulfide neurotoxicity.
Differences in the toxicities observed for dithiocarbamates have been proposed to result from the influence of nitrogen substitution, oxidation state, and route of exposure. To better characterize the fate of dithiocarbmates in vivoas a function of structure and route of exposure, rats were administered equimolar doses of carbon disulfide (CS2), N-methyldithiocarbamate, pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate, N,N-diethyldithiocarbamate, or disulfiram daily for five days, either po or ip, and sequential blood samples obtained. Protein dithiocarbamates formed by the in vivo release of CS2, parent dithiocarbamate, and protein-bound mixed disulfides were assessed in plasma and hemolysate by measuring toluene trithiocarbonate generated upon treatment with toluene-3, 4-dithiol (TdT). To aid in determining the bioavailability of CS2 from the administered dithiocarbamates, the urinary CS2 metabolites, 2-thiothiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid (TTCA) and 2-thiothiazolidin-4-ylcarbonylglycine (TTCG), were also determined. The levels of TdT-reactive moieties detected depended upon both the compound administered and the route of exposure. Parent dithiocarbamates, with the exception of disulfiram, were eliminated from blood within 24 h; but protein associated TdT-reactive moieties persisted and accumulated with repeated exposure, regardless of the route of exposure. N-Methyldithiocarbamate demonstrated the greatest potential to produce intracellular globin modifications, presumably through its unique ability to generate a methylisothiocyanate metabolite. Urinary excretion of TTCA and TTCG was more sensitive than TdT analysis for detecting dithiocarbamate exposure, but TdT analysis appeared to be a better indicator of in vivo release of CS2 by dithiocarbamates than were urinary CS2 metabolites. These data suggest that CS2 is a more important metabolite, following oral exposure, than are other routes of exposure, e.g., inhalation or dermal. In addition, data also suggest that acid stability, nitrogen substitution, and route of exposure are important factors governing the toxicity observed for a particular dithiocarbamate.
A new method is reported for the analysis of 2-thioxothiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid (TTCA) in urine that is amenable to automation and provides greatly simplified chromatograms. The method comprises the addition of tetrahydro-2-thioxo-2H-1,3-thiazine-4-carboxylic acid, which is chemically similar to TTCA, as internal standard, purification on an Oasis HLB solid-phase extraction column, and analysis by HPLC with UV detection. The limit of detection for TTCA was 40 pmol/mL of urine, recovery was 79.3 +/- 1.0%, and detection was linear over at least 3 orders of magnitude. In addition, during the analysis of urine samples from workers exposed to CS(2), a novel urinary metabolite of CS(2) was recognized. The new metabolite demonstrated a dose response, was present at approximately 30% the level of TTCA, and was charaterized to be 2-thioxothiazolidin-4-ylcarbonylglycine (TTCG). Administration of TTCG to rats resulted in excretion of TTCA suggesting that TTCG is a likely precursor of TTCA. Although urinary excretion of both TTCA and TTCG resulted from administration of captan, only TTCA was detected following administration of methyl isothiocyanate. The greater selectivity of TTCG suggests that co-analysis of TTCA and TTCG in urine may aid in differentiating exposures to CS(2), captan and isothiocyanates.
Disulfiram is a dithiocarbamate drug used for alcohol aversion therapy that produces a distal sensorimotor peripheral neuropathy in certain individuals. Because carbon disulfide, a disulfiram metabolite, produces a peripheral neuropathy clinically similar to disulfiram, it has been postulated that disulfiram neuropathy results from CS2 release in vivo. The current study evaluated the morphological changes produced by disulfiram and the contribution of CS2-mediated protein cross-linking to disulfiram-induced neuropathy. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were administered 1% w/w disulfiram in their feed for 2, 4, 5, or 7 wk, and erythrocyte spectrin, hemoglobin, and neurofilament preparations were isolated and the extent of cross-linking assessed by SDS-PAGE, RP-HPLC, and Western blotting, respectively. Spinal cord and peripheral nerve sections were obtained from separate treated animals and assessed by light and electron microscopy. Significant protein cross-linking was only detected in neurofilament preparations obtained after 7 wk of exposure. Morphological changes were observed after 4 wk exposure and consisted of vacuoles within the Schwann cell cytoplasm and segmental demyelination. No neurofilamentous axonal swellings were detected and no significant changes were observed in the CNS. Because disulfiram neuropathy lacks both the morphological changes and intermolecular cross-linking characteristic of CS2, we conclude that disulfiram neuropathy is not mediated by the axonal toxicant CS2; instead, disulfiram appears to be a primary Schwann cell toxicant. Recognition of a diethylcarbamoyl adduct on globin and axonal proteins presents a novel putative neurotoxic mechanism for disulfiram.
Female C57BL6 mice were exposed to 0 or 800 ppm carbon disulfide (CS2), 6 h/d, 5 d/wk for 20 weeks. The neurologic function of all mice was assessed once at the end of exposures using a functional observational battery. General health effects included a decrease in body weight gain, piloerection, hunched body posture, and ptosis. Treatment-related effects included altered gait (uncoordinated placement of hind limbs and ataxia) and impaired function on an inverted screen test. In addition, rearing and locomotor movement were decreased in treated mice. Focal to multifocal axonal swelling was seen predominantly in the muscular branch of the posterior tibial nerve, and occasionally giant axonal swelling was detected in the lumbar segment of the spinal cord. Electron microscopic examination revealed swollen axons with massive accumulation of neurofilament proteins within the axoplasm. Covalent cross-linking of erythrocyte spectrin (surrogate protein to neurofilament protein) was demonstrated in mice exposed to CS2 but not in mice receiving filtered air. These data provide supportive evidence that covalent cross-linking of neurofilament proteins is a significant feature of the axonal swellings in mice produced by inhalation exposure to CS2.
Carbon disulfide is a neurotoxic compound used in the production of viscose rayon, and is a major decomposition product of dithiocarbamates used in industry, agriculture, and medicine. Methods used currently for assessing exposure to CS2 are limited in their ability to evaluate cumulative exposures and provide useful information for relatively short periods of time after exposure has ended. The present investigation evaluates a method for monitoring CS2 exposure that consists of cleaving the thiocarbonyl function of free CS2 or certain CS2-generated modifications on proteins using toluene-3,4-dithiol. The resulting toluene trithiocarbonate product is then quantified using reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. The sensitivity, dose response, kinetics and specificity of this biomarker in blood were examined in rats administered CS2 by inhalation, intraperitoneal injection, or gavage for acute through subchronic periods. Dithiol reactive functions in plasma and hemolysate demonstrated a linear dose response over a wide range of exposure levels, were dependent upon the duration of exposure, and appeared to have an appropriate sensitivity for evaluating occupational levels of exposure. Elimination rates of dithiol reactive functions may also be dependent upon exposure duration and exhibit different kinetics for plasma and hemolysate suggesting that elimination rates may be useful for estimating cumulative exposure and intervals between exposure and sample procurement. Dithiol analysis, used in conjunction with previously established erythrocyte protein cross-linking biomarkers, may provide a means to characterize the internal dose of CS2 resulting from acute through chronic periods, and may provide insight into the level of CS2-mediated covalent protein modifications occurring within the nervous system.
Even though atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ACVD) is the number one cause of death in the United States, the effects of environmental toxicants on this process are less well studied than the effects of chemicals on the second leading cause of death, cancer. There is considerable epidemiological evidence that workers exposed to carbon disulfide (CS2) have increased rates of ACVD, and there is conflicting evidence of the atherogenic potential of CS2 from animal studies. Chemical modification, such as oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), is tightly associated with increased LDL uptake by macrophages and the development of arterial fatty streaks. CS2 has been previously demonstrated to modify several proteins in vitro including LDL, and others in vivo through derivatization and covalent cross-linking. To investigate both the capacity of CS2 to induce arterial fatty deposits by itself, and its ability to enhance the rate of fatty deposit formation induced by a western style, high fat diet, groups of 20 female C57BL/6 mice were exposed to 0, 50, 500, or 800 ppm CS2 by inhalation. Half the animals in each group were placed on an atherogenic high fat diet and half on a control diet (NIH-07). Animals were sacrificed after 1, 4, 8, 12, 16, or 20 weeks of exposure, and the rates of fatty deposit formation under the aortic valve leaflets were evaluated. Exposure of mice on the control diet to 500 and 800 ppm CS2 induced a small but significant increase in the rate of fatty deposit formation over non-exposed controls. A more striking result was observed in the animals on the high fat diet. There was marked enhancement of the rate of fatty deposit formation in mice exposed to 500 and 800 ppm over the animals on the high fat diet alone. In addition, there was a small but significant enhancement in mice exposed to 50 ppm over the rate of fatty deposit formation induced by the high fat diet alone. Analysis of erythrocyte spectrin for protein cross-linking revealed a dose-dependent formation of alpha- and beta-heterodimers in animals on both diets. These data demonstrate that CS2 is atherogenic at high concentrations, but more importantly, suggest that, in conjunction with other risk factors, CS2 at relatively low concentrations can enhance atherogenesis.
Previous in vivo studies have supported protein cross-linking by CS2 as both a mechanism of neurotoxicity and a potential biomarker of effect through the detection of a structure responsible for CS2-mediated protein cross-linking, namely, lysine-lysine thiourea. In this study, the structure of a previously uncharacterized stable protein cross-link produced by CS2 in vivo involving lysine and the N-terminal valine of globin has been determined. Rats were exposed to 50, 500, and 800 ppm CS2 for 2, 4, 8, and 13 weeks by inhalation or to 3 mmol/kg N,N-diethyldithiocarbamate administered orally on alternating days for 8 and 16 weeks. Acid hydrolysis, using 6 N HCl, of globin from control and exposed rats caused cyclization of the valine-lysine thiourea cross-link in treated rats to isopropyl norleucyl thiohydantoin. The hydrolysate was separated by size-exclusion chromatography, and the fraction that coeluted with the synthetic deuterated isopropyl norleucyl thiohydantoin internal standard was derivatized with 3-[4'-(ethylene-N,N, N-trimethylamino)phenyl]-2-isothiocyanate and analyzed by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry using selected reaction monitoring detection. Derivatized isopropyl norleucyl thiohydantoin obtained from CS2-treated rats displayed a cumulative dose response and was detectable at the lowest exposure (50 ppm, 2 weeks) at levels of approximately 50 pmol/g of globin. N, N-Diethyldithiocarbamate-treated rats, but not controls, also contained a CS2-generated valine-lysine thiourea cross-link on globin. In vitro incubation of human hemoglobin with either CS2 or N, N-diethyldithiocarbamate also resulted in the formation of CS2-generated valine-lysine thiourea. These observations demonstrate the potential of thiourea cross-linking involving a free amino terminus and epsilon-amino groups of lysine to accumulate in a long-lived globular protein and suggest that cross-linking of globin may provide a specific dosimeter of internal exposure for CS2 capable of assessing exposure over subchronic periods.
CS2, a known neurotoxicant, is used in the viscose production of rayon and is also a decomposition product of N, N-diethyldithiocarbamate, a metabolic product of the drug disulfiram used in alcohol aversion therapy. Previous in vitro investigations have demonstrated the ability of CS2 to cross-link proteins through thiourea, dithiocarbamate ester, and disulfide structures. Although in vivo studies have supported protein cross-linking as both a mechanism of neurotoxicity and a potential biomarker of effect, the chemical structures responsible for CS2-mediated protein cross-linking in vivo have not been elucidated. In the present study, the structure of one type of stable protein cross-link produced on erythrocyte spectrin by CS2 in vivo is determined. Rats were exposed to 50, 500, and 800 ppm CS2 for 13 weeks by inhalation or to 3 mmol/kg N,N-diethyldithiocarbamate administered orally on alternating days for 8 weeks. Erythrocyte spectrin preparations from control and exposed rats were hydrolyzed using 6 N HCl and separated by size-exclusion chromatography. The fraction that coeluted with the synthetic deuterated lysine-lysine thiourea internal standard was derivatized with 3-[4'-[(N,N,N-trimethylamino)ethylene]phenyl] 2-isothiocyanate and analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry using selected reaction monitoring detection. Lysine-lysine thiourea was detected in spectrin preparations obtained from CS2-treated rats at 500 and 800 ppm and N, N-diethyldithiocarbamate-treated rats, but not from controls. These results establish that CS2-mediated protein cross-linking occurs in vivo through the generation of Lys-Lys thiourea and that diethyldithiocarbamate can, through in vivo release of CS2, produce the same cross-linking structure. This observation supports the utility of cross-linking of peripheral proteins as a specific dosimeter of internal exposure for CS2 and provides a mechanistic explanation to account for the high-molecular-weight neurofilament protein species isolated from rats exposed to CS2 or N, N-diethyldithiocarbamate.