Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The chemical-induced genotoxicity of depleted uranium
by Yellowhair, Monica, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2011, 197; 3464789
Abstract (Summary)

Uranium has been mined for many years and used for fuel for nuclear reactors and materials for atomic weapons, ammunition, and armor. While the radioactivity associated with uranium mining has been linked to the development of lung and kidney cancers, and leukemia, little is known about the direct chemical genotoxicity of uranium. The overall hypothesis of the current research is that uranium can produce DNA damage by chemical genotoxicity mechanisms.

Three specific aims were tested. In Aim 1, specific DNA lesions caused by direct interaction of uranium and DNA were investigated. Chinese Hamster Ovary cells (CHO) with mutations in various DNA repair pathways were exposed to 0 – 300 μM of soluble depleted uranium (DU) as uranyl acetate (UA) for 0 – 48 hr. Results indicate that UA readily enters CHO cells, with the highest concentration localizing in the nucleus. Clonogenics assay shows that UA is cytotoxic in each cell line with the greatest cytotoxicity in the base excision repair deficient EM9 cells and the nuclear excision repair deficient UV5 cells compared to the non-homologous end joining deficient V3.3 cells and the parental AA8 cells after 48 hr. This indicates that UA is forming DNA adducts that may be producing single strand breaks through hydrolysis rather than double strand breaks in CHO cells. Fast Micromethod® results indicate an increased amount of single strand breaks in the EM9 cells after 48 hr UA exposure compared to the V3.3 and AA8 cells.

In Aim 2, the role of oxidative stress in producing DNA lesions was determined. Cellular oxidative stress has been implicated in the genotoxicity of many heavy metals as a mechanism of induced DNA damage. To investigate this possible mechanism, human bronchial epithelial cells (16HBE14o-) were exposed to 30 ppb (0.13 μM U) UA for 2 – 24 hr. UA did not significantly induce oxidative stress compared to untreated cells at 3 – 4 hr time points. These results suggest that cellular oxidative stress is not a major pathway of DU genotoxicity at low concentrations.

In Aim 3, DNA damage response to uranium-induced DNA damage was investigated. It has been widely reported that metals can be genotoxic by inhibiting DNA repair. Cultured cells were co-exposed to 0.13 μM UA in the presence of 0 – 25 μM of etoposide for 0 – 48 hr. Results indicate that UA inhibited double strand break repair. Co-exposures of etoposide and UA synergistically induced cytotoxicity compared to individual treatments and untreated cells. Co-exposed UA and etoposide treated 16HBE14o- cells exhibited a decrease in phosphorylation of DNA repair proteins compared to etoposide treatments. Untreated and UA-treated 16HBE14o - cells did not induce phosphorylation of DNA repair proteins. These results suggest that DU inhibits double strand break DNA repair at low concentrations in the presence of a known DNA double-strand damaging agent, etoposide. The inhibition of DNA repair by DU at environmentally relevant concentrations suggests a novel means by which uranium may exert its genotoxic effects. Results found at low dose exposures are not consistent with alterations seen with radioactivity, suggesting that the effects of uranium at low doses are due to its chemical genotoxic effects. Understanding how uranium reacts with DNA is important to better understand how this suspected carcinogen induces cancer and to help to elucidate mechanisms that produce cancers in people exposed to uranium.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lantz, Robert C.
Commitee: Briehl, Margaret M., Gandolfi, A. Jay, Martinez, Jesse D., Vaillancourt, Richard R.
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Pharmacology & Toxicology
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-B 72/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Toxicology, Surgery, Pharmacy sciences
Keywords: Chemical-induced genotoxicity, Depleted uranium, Dna damage, Metals
Publication Number: 3464789
ISBN: 978-1-124-81484-1
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